An Update on My Reading Goal: When Breath Becomes Air

I couldn’t wait to start reading the books on NPR’s list of the 10 best books of 2016.

The first book I read from the list was When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon, writes about his terminal cancer diagnosis and his process of revisiting his life’s goals in the aftermath of it.

This is a book everyone in health care should read. I work in the non-clinical side of health care, but Kalanithi’s message to remember to treat patients as people, not problems is one that can and should be applied to all areas of the health care field. Kalanithi writes about his transition from doctor to patient.

Through his book, Kalanithi reminds us to pay attention to what is important in life because even without a devastating diagnosis, none of us knows how many days we have left.

His wife wrote the beautiful epilogue which left me in tears on my couch Saturday afternoon. This is a great read.


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Now I’m on to my next selection from the NPR list and I am excited to share these books with you as I go.

Here is the updated list:

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

Eleanor Roosevelt: The War Years and After, 1939-1962 by Blanche Wiesen Cook

Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs by Robert Kanigel


2 thoughts on “An Update on My Reading Goal: When Breath Becomes Air”

  1. YAY! I’ve been waiting to see what you read! Lol! Sounds like a really good book. I think I somehow need to add this to my upcoming reading too. My mother recently passed away from cancer and when she was first admitted, she told me that she was going to fight so hard because she felt that there was still so much she had left to do. (Even though she was an amazing and well known physician who had saved 100s of lives, a huge advocate for health literacy, and an AMAZING grandmother to my kids.) She never made it out of the hospital, but I think about that all the time. “What is it that I have to do in order to feel like I’ve fulfilled my purpose before something happens to me?” Thanks for recommending this. It really seems an appropriate time for me to read this. 🙂


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