12/2017 Book: When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air
By Paul Kalanithi

Paul's wife, Lucy's TED talk:


I finished listening to this book with tears. I saw the life of this well-respected chief neurosurgical resident, Paul, through his beautiful words. This book makes me to start thinking about life and death in a deeper level.

Quotes from the book:

"Mind is the operation of the brain

Happiness is not the point of life

literature provided the best account of the life of the mind, while neuroscience laid down the most elegant rules of the brain)

If unexamined life not worth living, was unlived life worth examining?

Words began to feel as weightless as the breath that carried them

A little learning is a dangerous thing

Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring

There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again

What patients seek is not scientific knowledge that doctors hide but existential authenticity each person must find on her own

What is the most important thing in your life?

The physician’s duty is not to stave off death or return patients to their old lives, but to take into our arms a patient and family whose lives have disintegrated and work until they can stand back up and face, and make sense of, their own existence.

When you come to one of the many moments in life where you must give an account of yourself, provide a ledger of what you have been, and done, and meant to the world, do not, I pray, discount that you filled a dying man’s days with a sated joy, a joy that does not hunger for more and more but rests, satisfied. In this time, right now, that is an enormous thing."


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When Breath Becomes Air
By Paul Kalanithi