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Bistro Bookers

Join us on Tuesday, June 11, 2024 @ 4 p.m. 

When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi

Book Title:When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi, with a Foreword by Abraham Verghese

Book Summary: At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. “When Breath Becomes Air” chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” 

“When Breath Becomes Air” is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.

Discussed By: Bob Poczik, retired educator and co-president of the Clarence Book Review Club 

Date: Tuesday, June 11, 2024 @ 4 p.m.


Amherst Senior Center
370 John James Audubon Parkway
Amherst, NY 14228

RSVP required. You MUST reserve your seat for this event by 3 p.m. on Friday, June 7, 2024 by calling 716-636-3051. You will need to provide your name and phone number. If you call to reserve for more than one person, you must provide each person’s name and phone number.

*Suggested donation of $2 per person is greatly appreciated. Your donation helps Bistro Bookers continue to hold these reviews and donate back to our community literacy programs. Your donation also allows us to purchase the reviewer’s book if necessary and give them a gift for their time.

**Masks are encouraged at this time. Please make sure to bring yours just in case.

We will take the summer off and return in September 2024. Happy Reading!

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