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




history and poetry

“Among other things,
you’ll find that
you’re not the first person who
was ever confused and
frightened and
even sickened by
human behavior.

You’re by no means alone on
that score, you’ll be excited and
stimulated to know.

Many, many men have been
just as troubled morally and
spiritually as you are right now.

Happily, some of them kept
records of their troubles.
You’ll learn from them—if
you want to.

Just as someday, if
you have something to offer,
someone will learn
something from you.

It’s a beautiful
reciprocal arrangement.
And it isn’t education.
It’s history.
It’s poetry.”

—  J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

This is originally a quote from this infamous classic book (which I am ashamed I haven’t got my hands on yet). I chopped it into some phrases and lines to make it look like poetry. It is a technique (I forgot the name, unfortunately) I learned from an online poetry course which is about the use of a quote / paragraph from a book and breaking it down into lines to transform it into a poem.

This quote spoke to me. Isn’t it nice and true? 🙂

Happy weekend my dear friends!

ending agony (WQW)


I’m participating (finally) for the first time to my dearie Jade‘s Writer’s Quote Wednesday (WQW) and my first quote is from the Still I Rise woman, Maya Angelou and her words that have been “the force” that pushed me to write this blog almost three years ago. (Woah! Time flies! :D)

In my first post, Agony published August 28, 2014, I quoted her and said:

“It has been eight years since I dreamed of having a blog. Something I can call my own. Honestly, I have fears of bashers and grammar Nazis. People who might critique my write-ups. People who might oppose my opinions. Yes, it took me those long years to have the courage to publish my thoughts, my views and my what-not’s. Now it will be all available for the viewing and reading netizens. I am now ready for either praises or rejections, for either wow! or boo!, for anything that this blogosphere has in store for A Reading Writer like me.”

I closed the first post with: “Now my agony has ended.”

Fast forward almost three years after pressing that publish button, I am clearly far from the blogger who I was before. I’m just a reader before. A book reviewer. A fangirl of Nicholas Sparks and Mitch Albom and Jason Mraz and Sara Bareilles.

Now, I am still a reader. Still a fangirl. Still a dreamer. But now, a poetess (or I assume I am :D), a self-published author of my first baby “Between My Bleeding Lines” (a struggling one for that matter), a writer by profession and by hobby.

Has the agony ended? In telling my story, not yet.

For each day opens up a new poem. A new story. A new blank page. A new clean slate. A new struggle. A new battle. A new courage. A refilled bottle of bravery.

To write.
To live.
To dream.
To breathe (words).

For there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Let’s breathe some more, shall we?

On Being Unnoticed


You need not to be famous to become somebody.
You are already a hero to the hearts you touched deeply.
And remember He made you, wonderfully.

©2016 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo credit: Proverbs 31 Ministries
For 3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge as tagged by devereaux frazier and Ladylee Manila. ❤
Please join if you want. Let’s spread some motivations? 🙂

On Bitterness


Let’s choose to forgive
even if forgiveness isn’t asked.
Your heart is too beautiful
to keep those ugly poisons inside.

©2016 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.
Photo credit: Proverbs 31 Ministries
For 3 Days, 3 Quotes Challenge as tagged by devereaux frazier and Ladylee Manila. ❤
Please join if you want. Let’s spread some motivations? 🙂

On Bitterness (Plus a Leave-Note)

your heart is beautiful.


A Reading Writer is sick badly sick. -_- I am not sure when I’ll be back but I am sending you guys, a lot of love for the week.

I have scheduled poems until August 31 so I am sure you won’t miss me. 🙂

Have a great week, everyone!

Stressed-reading, Stressed-writing

When my mind’s worn-out,
I breathe in and out,
not oxygen,
but words.

©2016 Rosemawrites@A Reading Writer. All Rights Reserved.

Photo credit: Quote Fancy

Also in response to Jacq’s Thinking Corner.

Have a great (though busy) week, everyone!


Ten Characters I Won’t Forget


“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.” ― Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

They either left my heart broken
or their stories let my soul be taken
or they’re just handsome to be forgotten!


1. Gale of The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

The Who: Katniss Everdeen’s best friend and hunting partner and the story’s third wheel! XD

2. Four of Divergent Series by Veronica Roth

The Who: Tobias Eaton, more prominently known as Four, is a Dauntless and the love interest of Tris Prior.


3. Morrie Schwartz Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

The Who: Morrie Schwartz,  78-year-old sociology professor dying from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is Mitch Albom’s former teacher. The book has been Albom’s memoir for his inspiring professor.

4. Music/Narrator of The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom

The Who: Music is the storyteller of the epic story of Frankie Presto—the greatest guitar player who ever lived—and the six lives he changed with his six magical blue strings.


5. Don Tillman of The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Who: Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance.

6. Eleanor and Park of Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

The Who: Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.


7. Amy of Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The Who: Wife of Nick for five years and inspiration to Amazing Amy children’s book., Amy possess a creepily clever mind that can control everyone.


8. Garret of Message in a Bottle Nicholas Sparks

The Who: He writes heartbreaking love letters to express his undying love for his deceased wife. Through his message in a bottle, he was discovered by Theresa. 

9. Mia of If I Stay  by Gayle Forman

The Who: Mia is a gifted cellist from Oregon, from a family of punkists. She is Adam Wilde’s girlfriend from highschool, where he was pretty popular and she was the geek.After the car crash which killed her family, she had to choose whether she wants to leave or to stay.

10. Violet and Finch of All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

The Who: Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.
Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

Photo credit: Tumblr, Pinterest, ThingLink
Character descriptions:  credit: Goodreads

In response to The Broke and the Bookish‘s Top Ten Tuesday today:

March 8: Ten Characters Everyone Loves But I Just Don’t Get or Ten Characters I LOVE But Others Seem To Dislike


Who are the characters you cannot forget?


Let’s talk!