Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Rating: ❤❤❤❤

What is it about: 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.

What I Love: Die with dignity.

It’s the clarion call of Paul Kalanithi’s words carried in his posthumously published book, When Breath Becomes Air.

I ended up sobbing, with eyes swollen but it is a worth it less-than 200-page journey.

Travelling inside the mind and heart and soul of a dying doctor, who had always searched for life’s meaning is enlightening and moving.

Reading about death has always woke up the mortal in me. This is maybe why I am so fond of Mitch Albom’s books. Books about dying breathe life back to my purpose. My life’s meaning.

Why am I here?
What am I doing?
What makes life worth living?

What I Don’t Love Much: While the ending made me cry, it’s moving. So I have nothing to not like about this book.

Wise Words:

“I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” 

“You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.” 

“Life wasn’t about avoiding suffering.” 

“Human knowledge is never contained in one person. It grows from the relationships we create between each other and the world, and still it is never complete.” 

“The main message of Jesus, I believed, is that mercy trumps justice every time.”

©2018 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photos and Story Summary: Goodreads and Unsplash

 

 

Book Review: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

My Heart and Other Black Holes

46th – My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Rating: ❤❤❤❤ (Good read, definitely!)

What is it about: Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner.

Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.

What I Love: I love the characters because the writer was able to make them both relatable. You feel them, their pain, their hopelessness and even as they fall in love.

The struggles of the two main characters are revealed in a heart tugging way.

This book will make you smile, it will make you laugh, and it will make you feel for more sensitive for teenagers who may be depressed.

What I Don’t Love Much: Nothing.

Wise Words:

“Depression is like a heaviness that you can’t ever escape.”

“Sometimes I wonder if gravity is the problem. It keeps us all grounded, gives us this false sense of stability when really we’re all just bodies in motion. Gravity keeps us from floating up into space, it keeps us from involuntarily crashing into one another. It saves the human race from being a big hot mess.”

“Maybe that’s what love really boils down to-having someone who cares enough to pay attention so that you’re encouraged to travel and transfer, to make your potential energy spark into kinetic energy. Maybe all anyone ever needs is for someone to notice them, to observe them.”

©2016 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo and Story Summary: Goodreads and Unsplash

Book Review: A Murder Is Announced by Agatha Christie

A Murder is Announced

“It’s what’s in yourself that makes you happy or unhappy.”

45th – A Murder Is Announced (Miss Marple, #5) by Agatha Christie

Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤ (BEST, GREAT read!)

What is it about: Villagers expect a fun game after a Gazette announcement of murder, but when lights flash off, shots ring out, and a masked burglar falls dead, the Inspector and vicar’s wife Bunch call in expert Miss Jane Marple. Was Swiss hotel clerk Rudi framed? Miss Letitia Blackstone houses scatty Dora, cousins Julia and Patrick, gardener widow Phillipa, and paranoid cook Mitzi.

What I Love: Madame Agatha Christie is one beautifully twisted writer. You can never ever know who kills who. She is the best example why I love mystery and crimes. The tension, the suspense, the revelation! Geez!!

What I Don’t Love Much: Nothing!

Wise Words: “…what people do see at a moment of intense excitement and nervous strain. What they do see and, even more interesting, what they don’t see.”

“…if you have pain, you know how to enjoy the exquisite pleasure of the times when pain stops.”

“One is alone when the last one who remembers is gone.”

©2016 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo and Story Summary: Goodreads and Unsplash

Book Review: Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova

Inside the O'Briens

“Reality depends on perspective, on what is paid attention to.”

43rd – Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova

 Rating: ❤❤❤❤ (Good read, definitely)

What is it about: Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

What I Love: How the story unfolds.

The explanatory prelude.

The suspense.

The rawness of the characters and their individuality.

The lovely picture of a family battling a hard disease with strength, love and hope.

What I Don’t Love Much: None. 4 stars rating is because I love Lisa Genova’s Love Anthony and Still Alice more. 🙂

Wise Words: “Once you can imagine these things, you can’t unimagine them.”

“Every breath is a risk. Love is why we breathe.” –Katie

©2016 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo and Story Summary: Goodreads and Unsplash

Book Review: P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

P.S. I Love You

“Shoot for the moon, even if you fail, you’ll land among the stars.”

42nd – P.S. I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

 Rating: ❤❤❤ (Good read)

What is it about: Holly couldn’t live without her husband Gerry, until the day she had to. They were the kind of young couple who could finish each other’s sentences. When Gerry succumbs to a terminal illness and dies, 30-year-old Holly is set adrift, unable to pick up the pieces. But with the help of a series of letters her husband left her before he died and a little nudging from an eccentric assortment of family and friends, she learns to laugh, overcome her fears, and discover a world she never knew existed.

The kind of enchanting novel with cross-generational appeal that comes along once in a great while, PS, I Love You is a captivating love letter to the world!

What I Love: If you are looking for one easy read, this is the book for you.

It deals with one hard life evet but it still managed to be entertaining. The hopeful end completes the easy read aura.

What I Don’t Love Much: The main character. Her being confused is a bit annoying sometimes.

Wise Words: “Memories were fine, but you couldn’t touch them, smell them or hold them.”

“Seeming and being are not one and the same.”

©2016 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo and Story Summary: Goodreads and Unsplash

Book Review: Room by Emma Donoghue

Room

“Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.”

41st – Room by Emma Donoghue

Rating: ❤❤❤❤ (Good read, definitely!)

What is it about: To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, Room is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another.

What I Love: With a unique theme, a unique storyteller, a unique set-up, this is indeed an epic read.

The characters will intrigue you and will make you root for them.

It is one heart hitting reads.

What I Don’t Love Much: The end becomes a bit confused.

Wise Words: “Everybody’s damaged by something.”

“People don’t always want to be with people. It gets tiring.” 

“Stories are a different kind of true.”

©2016 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo and Story Summary: Goodreads and Unsplash

Book Review: The Way Back to You by Michelle Andreani and Mindi Scott

The Way Back to You

“The beauty of being young is that you can change your mind a hundred times and life is still before you with all the options.”

40th – A book about a roadtrip – The Way Back to You by Michelle Andreani and Mindi Scott

 Rating: ❤❤❤ (Good read)

What is it about: Six months ago, Ashlyn Montiel died in a bike accident.

Her best friend Cloudy is keeping it together, at least on the outside. Cloudy’s insides are a different story: tangled, confused, heartbroken.

Kyle is falling apart, and everyone can tell. Ashlyn was his girlfriend, and when she died, a part of him went with her. Maybe the only part he cares about anymore.

As the two people who loved Ashlyn best, Cloudy and Kyle should be able to lean on each other. But after a terrible mistake last year, they’re barely speaking. So when Cloudy discovers that Ashlyn’s organs were donated after her death and the Montiel family has been in touch with three of the recipients, she does something a little bit crazy and a lot of out character: she steals the letters and convinces Kyle to go on a winter break road trip with her, from Oregon to California to Arizona to Nevada. Maybe if they see the recipients—the people whose lives were saved by Ashlyn’s death—the world will open up again. Or maybe it will be a huge mistake.

With hundreds of miles in front of them, a stowaway kitten, and a list of people who are alive because of Ashlyn, Cloudy and Kyle just may find their way to back to her…and to each other.

What I Love: This book begins with a promising start. Its engrossing and intriguing.

But as it..

What I Don’t Love Much: …becomes confusing. The main characters are confuse themselves.

Wise Words: “The beauty of being young is that you can change your mind a hundred times and life is still before you with all the options.”

“Grief doesn’t seem to need much space at all; it’s more like it tightens and squeezes until there’s no more of you left.”

“More than anything, though, I’ve learned that, just like in cheer, life is all about support. Being capable on your own is important, but big or small, having the right team makes all the difference.”

©2016 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo and Story Summary: Goodreads and Unsplash

Book Review: Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

Fates and Furies

“Paradox of marriage: you can never know someone entirely; you do know someone entirely.”

39th – Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

   Rating: ❤❤ (Not for me, sorry.)

What is it about: Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.

At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed.

What I Love: This book is filled with beautifully poetic lines. I actually thought this will be as great as All the Light We Cannot See but…

What I Don’t Love Much: As you kept reading, the book somehow losses its glory. The length is too long, the twists are too much. There are parts that are a bit too dramatic.

Wise Words: “Grief is for the strong, who use it as fuel for burning.”

“Struggle forms character. No struggle, no character.”

©2016 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo and Story Summary: Goodreads and Unsplash

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray

“Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother’s was worth a pocket watch.”

38th Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤ (BEST, GREAT read!)

What is it about: Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they’ve known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin’s orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously–and at great risk–documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives. Between Shades of Gray is a novel that will steal your breath and capture your heart.

What I Love: Bold. Brutal. Cringe-inducing yet filled with almost prose poetic beautiful lines.

It hits the heart hard and it makes you feel the character’s agony, hope, anguish. Your heart will ache for them and that’s how great books are. They make you feel by presenting truths that you don’t know yet. They make you think. They make you care.

This will make you emotionally tired. A tiredness that is so worth it.

What I Don’t Love Much: Nothing.

Wise Words: “Sometimes there is such beauty in awkwardness. There’s love and emotion trying to express itself, but at the time, it just ends up being awkward.”

“Was it harder to die, or harder to be the one who survived?”

“Whether love of friend, love of country, love of God, or even love of enemy—love reveals to us the truly miraculous nature of the human spirit.”

“I planted a seed of hatred in my heart. I swore it would grow to be a massive tree whose roots would strangle them all.”

“You stand for what is right, Lina, without the expectation of gratitude or reward.”

©2016 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo and Story Summary: Goodreads and Unsplash

Book Review: The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

The Lover's Dictionary

“It was a mistake,” you said. But the cruel thing was, it felt like the mistake was mine, for trusting you.”

37th – The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan

Rating: ❤❤❤❤❤ (BEST, GREAT read!)

What is it about: How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time.

What I Love: A book is great when I somehow wished I who wrote it. That’s how I feel for this masterpiece.

It is indeed a dictionary of love and you really have to decipher the story in each and every word (beginning from a to z).That’s what I love about it. It’s engrossing and intriguing.

Plus! Heart breaking!

What I Don’t Love Much: Nothing

Wise Words: “People often say that when couples are married for a long time, they start to look alike. I don’t believe that. But I do believe their sentences start to look alike.

“You can be separate from a thing and still care about it.”

“Trying to write about love is ultimately like trying to have a dictionary represent life. No matter how many words there are, there will never be enough.”

©2016 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo and Story Summary: Goodreads and Unsplash