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Ballymena Today Book club – When Breath becomes Air Discussion

Gather together your mini book club and lets discuss our latest book – “When Breath Becomes Air”. We have already looked at some of the major themes involved in teh book in the following articles:

Now its your chance to discuss the book in more detail with the help of discussion topics from


Ballymena Book Club – when Breath Becomes Air discussion


1. How would you describe Dr. Paul Kalanithi? What kind of a person was he?

2. One of the most profound questions addressed in this book is what makes life worth living in the face of death. We all face death, but Paul Kalanithi knew his was imminent. What answers, or at least consolations, does he find?

3. Kalanithi quotes Samuel Beckett’s seven words: I can’t go on. I’ll go on.” Talk about what that means, not just for Paul Kalanithi but for all of us. In the face of dying, especially prolonged, how does one “go on” or, in popular parlance, “keep on keeping on”?

4. One of the ironies of Kalanithi’s life is that he postponed learning how to live in order to learn how to be a doctor. But once he knew he had lung cancer, he had to learn how to die. What are the ways in which he learned to live…and learned to face his death? Would you be as brave and thoughtful as Katanithi was?

5. Describe Kalanithi’s love-hate relationship with medicine. He saw it as a job that kept his cardiologist father away from home. But how else did he see it?

6. Do you find When Breath Becomes Air enlightening, insightful, spiritual, maudlin? Would you describe it as an important book or merely interesting?

Thank you to Litlovers for sharing these discussion questions. For more please click here. Hopefully these discussion questions raised some interesting conversations between you and your bookish friends. Please stay tuned to Ballymena Today to find out what our next Ballymena Today book club book will be.