Dear Great Book Guru, My friends and I are thinking of starting a monthly book club focusing on non-fiction. Do you have any suggestions for a good book we could begin with- something short, something compelling?
Dear Reality Reader, I have a wonderful book for your group: WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR by Paul Kalanithi. Kalanithi was a brilliant scientist, writer, and linguist with advanced degrees in medicine and literature. Then at age 36 he received what was basically a death sentence: a diagnosis of advanced lung cancer. This slim (240 pages) volume details his last years as he tries to answer a question he has been obsessed with his entire adulthood: “given that all organisms die, what makes a virtuous and meaningful life?” We learn about his parents, his large family of cousins, siblings, aunts and uncles, his wife, his many friends- all who play a part in his quest for understanding. We see as he goes from powerful physician to contemplative patient and are with him as he decides to have a child so that he can experience the joy and pain of loving and leaving something of himself. Beautifully written, this book with its poetry and carefully crafted prose is not so much sad as instructive, offering profound insight into human mortality. Highly recommended!