2016 Book Challenge- A Book that Can be Finished in a Day

2016 Book Challenge- A Book that Can be Finished in a Day


When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Another month has come and gone in Malaysia and with a slew of long weekends I’ve been able to add thirteen books to my “read” list for the year, even with it being the shortest month of the year. (One *huge* advantage to working for the State Department aboard is that we enjoy both US and host-country holidays.) Luckily, I had the bonus of Leap Year day this year, as the actual end of the month caught me by surprise and I really am getting this month’s challenge write-up taken care of as I put an X on the last day of the calendar page. (Yes, I still cling to actual print calendars rather than having moved everything in my life to a digital one. I have an adorable floral desk calendar at work that not only lets me easily look up appointment dates for callers, but that serves as home to my week count of scam calls/emails. I also have a spiral day planner that I use for my personal events- complete with binder clip on top for easy access to the right page. )

Once again, I read books from many of these categories, so I am just going to choose one and go with it. I am guessing by about November or December, this willy-nilly organization might bite me in the butt, but for now it is working. I decided to go with “A book you can finish in a day” and I actually had two strong contenders in for this title: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi and Washington’s Monument by John Steele Gordon. Ultimately, I decided I’m going to go with the first, as it has wider appeal, but history buffs and DC friends, be sure to check out Gordon’s new book- it just came out a few weeks ago.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi has made several “best new releases of 2016” lists, so I couldn’t wait for my library hold to come through. (As always, I have a full hold list and I swear about four come through at a time. There is never a trickle. It is drought and then deluge!) This is a beautifully written book by a man who dedicated his life to finding the intersection between our brains and our minds. A scholar of both literature and neurology, this book was a fascinating mix of references to classical literature and quite in-depth scientific processes. It has something for those of us who love literature and the empathy it brings to one’s life and the as well as those who are more hardwired for facts and figures. In what some see as a cruel twist of fate, and yet exactly what Kalanithi studied for years, he is forced to confront the mind/brain overlap when he is diagnosed with brain cancer in his mid-30s. When Breath Becomes Air is Kalanithi’s final thoughts on where his book studies and his personal experiences have left him in terms of what makes us who we are. The combination of philosophy, literature and science makes this a great read for lovers of fiction and non-fiction alike.

In Search of the End of the Sidewalk’s 2016 Reading Challenge

_____ A book published this year

_____A book you can finish in a day

_____A book you’ve been meaning to read

_____ A book recommended to you by a librarian

_____ A book you should have read in school

_____ A book chosen for you by your spouse/partner, best friend, child or sibling

_____ A book published before you were born

_____ A book that was banned at some point

_____ A book you abandoned previously

_____ A book you own but have never read

_____ A book that intimidates you

_____ A book you’ve read at least once



One thought on “2016 Book Challenge- A Book that Can be Finished in a Day

  1. Pingback: (20)16 Going on (20)17 | In Search of the End of the Sidewalk

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