In the Church Library: When Breath Becomes Air


The neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi learned he had lung cancer when he was 35 and died two years later.

When Breath becomes Air (155.9 K) is his meditation on the reversal of roles when a doctor becomes a patient. “As a doctor, I was an agent, a cause; as a patient, I was merely something to which things happened,” he writes. He describes his youth, his decision to become a doctor, and some of his experiences in medical school. Just at the end of that process he receives his cancer diagnosis. In the remainder of the book, he writes movingly about his gradual acceptance of his mortality and the joy in his last months with his wife and baby daughter. The epilogue was written by his wife after his death, and I dare you to read it without shedding a few tears! This little book richly deserves its place at the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list.

~Carol Jensen, Church Librarian