When Breath Becomes air, by Paul Kalanithi

Reviews for this tab section now posted on Fridays

Dr. Lucy Kalanithi and Dr. Paul Kalanithi with their daughter, Elizabeth Acadia. Courtesy of Lucy Kalanithi

Bill Gates, who had this book on his recommended list, titled his review "This Book Left Me in Tears". Good title but it is a real look at real people and it really can bring you to tears. 

The book is about Paul Kalanithi who received a masters degree in literature and was planning on a PHD at Stanford but he had been obsessed with the question of "what makes life worth living in the face of death? His father had been a doctor. He wanted to know “where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” He set aside his plans for literature and writing and went to medical school.  He wanted to have relationships with the suffering, and felt that he could learn more about what makes human life meaningful. He 

When Paul was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2013, he was a 36-year-old on the verge of making big contributions to the world with his mind and hands. He was a gifted doctor—a chief resident in neurosurgery at Stanford just months away from completing the most grueling training of any clinical field. He was also a brilliant scientist. His postdoctoral research on gene therapy won him his field’s highest research award. He could have written a good book on any subject he chose".

As he was ending his residency he learned that he had stage 4 cancer and that he might have 5 to 10 years to live. He could return to neurosurgery or he could write? He did both. He and his wife then chose to have a baby that came eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis.

He said of his pending death that is was unsettling (a big understatement) but he added; “Yet there is no other way to live.”

Both this book and "The Heart" (see last review) are about death. This one is nonfiction, the other is a novel. Both are very well written and both have the potential to change your thinking. The beauty and wonder of the body is really revealed in these writings. Paul wanted to find what makes human life meaningful and I think the answer is in both of these books. 


The Cat In The Hat

Sections/ Thoughts

Blog: Book Reviews, comments on Authors (last two were Kids Books) Pictures: Pictures I have taken or liked, not connected to other themes What Matters: Thoughts on Core Values

 Thoughts on This Post: Most of what I have written about in this section is nor children book stories. That said think about this quote: "A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest."~ C.S. Lewis

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

 -Albert Einstein


The Cat in the Hat, by Theodor Geisel (Dr Seuss), was first published in 1957. It is a story about a tall human like cat who dresses in a red & white striped hat with a red bow tie.  

With his companions, "Thing One & Thing Two" they try to entertain some neighbors and wind up wrecking the house.  Finally the Cat uses a special tool to clean everything up. He then says his goodbyes and disappears just before the children's mother walks in.

The book offers lessons that need to be learned. For example The Cat in the Hat is about stranger danger. Although it may seem fun to let a big cat into your house, maybe think twice. That's just common sense for all ages.

This is the book that made Dr Suess famous. It kicked off an emphasis on beginning readers books. The focus on imagination for the characters and the ease of reading resulted in these books being read over and over again. Children learned to read from them.

Characters: The Cat in the Hat,Thing One,Thing Two, Sally, Sally's brother, Fish & Mother