Not sure why I’ve decided to start 2017 with a review of a book that made me cry, but we’re here now so let’s get on with it. It is what it is.
This isn’t the usual book that I read, for a start it’s non fiction. I usually like fiction. I like to escape to fantasy worlds and pretend I’m somewhere else, someone else, off saving the universe for a few hours. This is not that kind of book.
When Breath Becomes Air is the incredibly moving memoir of Paul Kalanithi, a talented neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with cancer and who died before he could finish the book. The last chapter is written by his widow and is just as heart-wrenching as the ones which proceed it.
My notes for this book are just a list of single words that read like the review section of a blurb: Gorgeous. Beautiful. Moving. Heartbreaking. Lovely. Poetry. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. A book written by a dying man about living. This is honestly such a lovely book, so effortlessly poetic and full of life that it seems almost absurd that the subject matter is actually so dark. This is not a book about dying, not really, this is a book about living. About taking the opportunities you are offered, about writing that novel when you can, taking that job, answering that call! It is a wonderful, moving, heart-wrenching, joyous, tear-jerking, beautiful book. I recommend everyone reads it.