Notes from Ann: When Breath Becomes Air

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(Image via

Paul Kalanithi was finishing his residency in neurosurgery at Stanford when he found out he had a very aggressive form of lung cancer. He decided to use part of the little time he had left to write a book, and that book, When Breath Becomes Air, is going to be published today.

I’m making it my personal mission to urge everyone to buy it and read it, in part because the author isn’t around to do his own promotion, and in part because he’s left behind a wife and a young child who should get the royalties. I want everyone to read this book because it’s a brilliant piece of writing and a singular and profound piece of thinking, but it’s also more than that: When Breath Becomes Air makes us stop and think about how gorgeous life is, how heart-wrenching and brief and amazing. Paul Kalanithi’s life was short but utterly essential, as our lives are, in very different ways, short and essential.

So read this book, please.

Thank you,

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When Breath Becomes Air

(Video via Stanford Medicine)