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Must Read Book: When Breath Becomes Air

Everyone is talking about it…. so call me generic or mainstream, but I can’t stop raving and oohing and crying about When Breath Becomes Air [1]. I am obsessed: I have ordered four copies and given them to friends. I figure out a way to bring it up in every conversation. I think about it. I want to re-read it with a highlighter and underline the important lines. It is heart-wrenching, gut-punching, soul-defining good.


Fresh Air.

Fresh Air.

I started the book last Friday and finished it on Sunday. It didn’t matter if the kids were jumping all over me (true story) or I was in a curvy road car ride (true story)… I couldn’t put it down. And when I say I sobbed, I SOBBED. I kept on turning to Ken and saying ” This book is soooooo sad” (deep thought).


Even the title makes me want to start to cry.

Even the title makes me want to cry.


When I told my best friend in San Francisco that this was hands down the #1 book I have recently read, she said “You love depressing cancer books that make you cry.” Blanket statement, but might be true. Maybe I do love a good cry and a release, but damn, this book is so so so good. Even if you don’t like sad books. My response to Amy was, “I am ordering it now for you and you better read it.”


Paul; what an incredible doctor, writer and person.

Paul; what an incredible doctor, writer and person. A true hero.


And maybe this book is especially personal and sad due to my family’s loss 4 years ago of sweet Joanna. [2]OH MY GOD HERE COME THE TEARS, the sting, the sadness. Joanna, like Paul, suffered from a fluke illness (in Joanna’s case, leukemia for 9 months).  They both fought as hard as they could, and left behind a baby. I think of Joanna often, not just because her sister is one of my closest friends (and my sister-in-law), but also because she is a model of inspiration, a fighter, a beautiful soul and mother. She left the world too early (age 34) and never had the chance to experience her son as a toddler or a child….


To read Paul’s first article that got me hooked on him (‘Before I Go’), go here [3]. Then his NY Times op-ed piece (‘How Long Have I Got Left’), go here [4]. And the New York Times review [5]. It is a must read. Hug your friends and family close; you are ALIVE. And then go buy this book.

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl
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