Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air: Book club and discussion.

What a Dying Neurosurgeon Can Teach Us About How to Live

What a Dying Neurosurgeon Can Teach Us About How to Live

Discussing new and classic works.
April 11 2016 9:51 AM

The Audio Book Club Reads When Breath Becomes Air

Slate critics debate neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi’s cancer memoir.


To listen to the Audio Book Club discussion of When Breath Becomes Air, click the arrow on the player below.


Slate critics Meghan O’Rourke, Parul Sehgal, and Katy Waldman discuss When Breath Becomes Air, the unfinished memoir of a talented neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi, who was diagnosed with lung cancer at 36. Kalanithi writes movingly about the moral aspect of medicine, the surreal transition from doctor to patient, and the even more surreal fact of mortality. What does his memoir add to the growing genre of cancer literature?

Next month the Audio Book Club will dig into Dave Eggers’ novel A Hologram for the King. Read the book and stay tuned for our discussion in May!

Visit our Audio Book Club archive page for a complete list of the more than 75 books we’ve discussed over the years. Or you can listen to any of our previous club meetings through our iTunes feed.


See all the pieces in this month’s Slate Book Review.

Podcast produced by Jayson De Leon and Andy Bowers.

Meghan O’Rourke is Slate’s culture critic and an advisory editor. She was previously an editor at the New Yorker. The Long Goodbye, a memoir about her mother’s death, is now out in paperback.

Parul Sehgal is an editor at the New York Times Book Review.

Katy Waldman is a Slate staff writer.