BOOK REVIEW: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Format: Library book
Links: Goodreads | Amazon UK
Blurb: At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student asking what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and a new father.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when when life is catastrophically interrupted? What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away?

Paul Kalanithi died while working on this profoundly moving book, yet his words live on as a guide to us all. When Breath Becomes Air is a life-affirming reflection on facing our mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi”


Book Review: Not That Kind of Love by Clare and Greg Wise 

Publisher: Quercus
Publication date: February 2018
Format: Paperback, giveaway
Blurb: A moving, thought-provoking and surprisingly humorous book which is both a description of a journey to death and a celebration of the act of living.

Based on Clare Wise’s blog, which she started when she was first diagnosed with cancer in 2013, Not That Kind of Love charts the highs and lows of the last three years of Clare’s life. The end result is not a book that fills you with despair and anguish. On the contrary, Not That Kind of Love should be read by everybody for its candour, and for its warmth and spirit. Clare is an astonishingly dynamic, witty and fun personality, and her positivity and energy exude from every page.

As she becomes too weak to type, her brother – the actor Greg Wise – takes over, and the book morphs into a beautiful meditation on life, and the necessity of talking about death. With echoes of Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal and Cathy Rentzenbrink’s The Last Act of Love, it is a very special read that rejoices in the extraordinary and often underestimated sibling bond, and the importance of making the most of the ordinary pleasures life has to offer. Continue reading “Book Review: Not That Kind of Love by Clare and Greg Wise “

Book Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Cover-to-Fault-In-Our-Stars-the-fault-in-our-stars-34488682-1523-2339What it’s about:

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

The Fault In Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heart-breaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling and tragic business of being alive and in love.

CharlooDividerReview (Spoiler alert):

I have never before had such an unclear opinion of a book. I both adored and despised this book. I wish I could write a review without giving anything away for the people who haven’t read it but I simply can’t so I’m sorry in advance. This book is about terminally ill, Hazel Grace. At sixteen years old she is wise beyond her years and knows full-well that she is going to die young. Then one day she meets cancer survivor, Augustus Waters, in one of her Support Group meetings and they quickly fall in love. He introduces Hazel to a whole world of possibilities until one day when tragedy strikes and Hazel and Augustus might not get their happy ending after all.

It was pretty obvious what was going to happen. It’s a cancer story – someone’s bound to die. But the matter of who left me dumbstruck. I’ve watched a fair few films similar to this book e.g. Now Is Good but they didn’t have as much of an effect on me. I shed a few tears at the end and that’s about it. This book was different. Although you didn’t write it, you essentially make up your own story in your head. You imagine the characters and places exactly how you want them to look and form connections to those you identify with so this book had me in absolute pieces at some points because I’d come to know these wonderful characters inside my own imagination. The book is written from Hazel’s point of view which definitely adds to the emotion. At first I really wasn’t sure about this book. I felt like I was reading a more depressing version of Perks of Being a Wallflower and I found the first few chapters extremely uncomfortable and I frequently had to stop reading because all the talk of cancer, death and oblivion was too over-whelming. As the story went on however, I kind of got used to it. It’s an hugely delicate subject and not something you want to “get used to” but it gave out some really important messages and by the end made me think about life and death and everything in between completely differently to how I did before. It also has some fantastic quotes and you know me – I love a good quote.

If you haven’t read the book yet and don’t want any spoilers then I suggest you stop reading but like I said I simply cannot write this review without giving some of the main parts away. I really liked how during Augustus and Hazel’s happy days the chapters were quite long but then as it neared the end for Gus the chapters got noticeably shorter – to a mere 3 pages during one chapter. I’m not sure whether anyone else noticed this but it made an impact on me. I also liked how the first 3/4 of the book were mainly Hazel’s struggles then the tide dramatically turned and all of a sudden it was all about Gus and Hazel seemed to put her problems aside. The last part I need to make a comment on is the bit that destroyed me. I have never cried so much at a book than I did at that one part. The deterioration of Gus. I found it much worse than his actual death. He went from this lively, charismatic, somewhat cocky character to a frail, incompetent cancer patient and it was absolutely heart-breaking and as sad as it is, I love the way he doesn’t pretend to be a hero and doesn’t pretend that there’s anything glamorous about illness. Because there’s not. This book is so raw and is guaranteed to break your heart. (The part when he gets stuck at the petrol station and couldn’t work out how to use his G-tube and he’s crying down the phone to Hazel and she turns up and he’s covered in his own vomit and keeps saying he just wants to die. I just didn’t know what to do with myself, seriously).

I also found out that John Green served as a chaplain at a children’s hospital which is where the idea for the book flourished. It’s devastating to know that there are children/young adults out there actually going through the same thing but nevertheless I think it’s a good source of awareness. I don’t know what else to say expect read it for yourself.