Dying neurosurgeon pens heartbreaking memoir before his death

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Paul Kalanithi: A Neurosurgeon's Memoirs

Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer at the age of 36 just before completing a decade of training as a neurosurgeon.

In his heartbreaking and posthumous memoir, "When Breath Becomes Air", Kalanithi explores the big questions surrounding how the prospect of death can impact what makes life worth living.

As the Times' review explains, Kalanithi offers a "gripping" look into the life of a doctor treating patients one day and being one the next:

I guarantee that finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option. There is so much here that lingers, and not just about matters of life and death.

The book made its debut on The New York Times Best Seller list for the week of January 31, 2016.

Click through the nonfiction New York Times Best Sellers list below:

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Dying neurosurgeon pens heartbreaking memoir before his death

No. 15 on NY Times Bestsellers list nonfiction: 

A Detail of History: The harrowing true story of a boy who survived the Nazi Holocaust, $8.99

How do you survive when you’re 11 years old and all your family have been taken from you and killed? How do you continue to live, when everything around you is designed to ensure certain death? Arek Hersh tells his story simply and honestly, a moving account of a little boy who made his own luck and survived. He takes us into the tragic world imposed on him that robbed him of his childhood.

No. 14 on NY Times Bestsellers list nonfiction: 

I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, $8.44

When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

No. 13 on NY Times Bestsellers list nonfiction: 

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, $8.87

The real story of the crash began in bizarre feeder markets where the sun doesn't shine and the SEC doesn't dare, or bother, to tread: the bond and real estate derivative markets where geeks invent impenetrable securities to profit from the misery of lower--and middle--class Americans who can't pay their debts. 

No. 12 on NY Times Bestsellers list nonfiction: 

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, $16.83

n this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction.

No. 11 on NY Times Bestsellers list nonfiction: 

Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir, $16.06

A vivid memoir of food and family, survival and triumph, Love, Loss, and What We Ate traces the arc of Padma Lakshmi’s unlikely path from an immigrant childhood to a complicated life in front of the camera—a tantalizing blend of Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone and Nora Ephron’s Heartburn.

No. 10 on NY Times Bestsellers list nonfiction: 

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, $15.60

In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.

No. 9 on NY Times Bestsellers list nonfiction: 

A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, $12.14

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.

No. 8 on NY Times Bestsellers list nonfiction: 

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter, $16.07

Joe and Rose Kennedy’s strikingly beautiful daughter Rosemary attended exclusive schools, was presented as a debutante to the Queen of England, and traveled the world with her high-spirited sisters. And yet, Rosemary was intellectually disabled — a secret fiercely guarded by her powerful and glamorous family. 

No. 7 on NY Times Bestsellers list nonfiction: 

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, $9.15

For readers of Unbroken, out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times—the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.

No. 6 on NY Times Bestsellers list nonfiction: 

Alexander Hamilton​, $13.06

In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”

No. 5 on NY Times Bestsellers list nonfiction: 

Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, $16.29

From the author of The Power of Habit comes a fascinating book that explores the science of productivity, and why, in today’s world, managing how you think—rather than what you think—can transform your life.

No. 4 on NY Times Bestsellers list nonfiction: 

Between the World and Me, $9.83

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis.

No. 3 on NY Times Bestsellers list nonfiction: 

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, $18.68

Why is America living in an age of profound economic inequality? Why, despite the desperate need to address climate change, have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again? Why have protections for employees been decimated? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers?

No. 2 on NY Times Bestsellers list nonfiction: 

Miracles from Heaven: A Little Girl and Her Amazing Story of Healing, $9.10

Soon to be a major motion picture from Sony, starring Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah-Miracles from Heaven is the true story of one little girl, her journey to heaven, and an amazing story of healing.

No. 1 on NY Times Bestsellers list nonfiction: 

When Breath Becomes Air, $15.00

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live.


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