When Breath Becomes Air is the memoir of a man who realises that his life is to be cut short, dramatically. Paul Kalanithi was 36, and about to complete his training as a neurosurgeon, when he found out he had terminal cancer. I didn’t find the book as emotionally harrowing as I thought I might. It is the story of a man with many gifts and interests, who strived to find the best way to help people make life meaningful. At the very end of his medical training, before he was able to bring to fruition all his plans, he was given a terrible gift; that of experiencing life as a patient facing his own death. It is, of course, very sad, but it is also hopeful, and uplifting, and encourages the reader to live thoughtfully.