Review of When Breath Becomes Air


Now this. This is a beautiful book. I don't really talk about it much but I am a genuine fan of poetry. While I love to read non-fiction for the feeling of learning, my true guilty pleasure and therapy session is fantasy. Specifically high prose fantasy such as Tolkien, Rothfuss, or Guy Gavriel Kay. I have mixed feelings about how I place books written by authors who have passed. In fact I no longer put ratings on any books by my favorite author- Terry Pratchett since he passed. Dying isn't special- every single person does it. Yet it is incredibly and so acutely unchangeable that it in a way changes everything about a person. Why should the work of someone who is dead be elevated. Is beauty truly just scarcity? I am not sure. This was a silly tangent and all unneeded fortunately for When Breath Becomes Air is on its own amazing. Should Paul Kalanithi still be with us today he would be placed among the greats I have no doubt. This was a rare and beautiful man who's love for literature and science spoke so deeply to me. The posing of the question in his heart: What is the difference between magic and real? Between love and evolution? Between breath and air? Patrick Rothfuss has a character who believes everyone has a question in his or her heart that drives every aspect of their being- and learning this question makes you learn the person. This motivation for Kalanithi is so pure and fantastic that it made me believe it was my own for a while. But now I think I am becoming more and more confident that I still don't know the question in my heart. Which according to Rothfuss means I do not know myself. Which is okay- I have time. When I apply to med school and I will get asked: Why do you want to become a  physician? I hope I will know. This book I think about often. It makes me scared to be honest. I do not know the future and it is worthless to worry over it. Simply making your decisions and going is our only choice. But what about the ones you love? Shouldn't you worry you won't have enough time for them? What about time for yourself? I am not talking about burnout either. I can make the time for love for my family and partner- as well as myself. But what is the point of the other stuff? I think it is for the unknown question in my heart. The answer I think is becoming a physican and helping others, yet I still haven't learned the question, only what the question isn't. Paul Kalanithi feels like a loss friend after the 8 months since I have read this book. I hope his wife and his daughter is well. I hope they learn to live without a man who's presence is so large I feel grief having never known him. I cannot imagine what they're going through. His love for literature inspires to keep me going with my love for it. His love for the mysteries between the magic and the real make me love it. His love for helping the blind see makes me want to open my eyes so I may do the same. This is a terrible book review but it genuinely makes me a happier and I hope a better person typing this out. These blog posts are becoming quite therapeutic. But the point of this was to be a half-journal thingy. I hope this book brings as much joy and self questioning to  others as it has me. Thank you Paul.


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