9780812988406_4079cPoised to  break onto the bestseller lists is Paul Kalanithi’s memoir, When Breath Becomes Air, (PRH/Random House; BOT; OverDrive Sample).

It begins at the moment the author, a neurosurgeon finally completing over a decade of training, learns that his life, put on hold for so long, might very well end decades sooner than anyone would expect.

On the NYT’s Book Review podcast, Greg Cowles, who oversees the bestseller lists, hints that it is likely to hit the list next week and notes that it has been getting a lot of attention.

Indeed it has.

Janet Maslin, reviewing it for the daily NYT calls it “unmissable” and says:

“Dr. Kalanithi, who died at 37, went on to write a great, indelible book … To paraphrase Abraham Verghese’s introduction, to read this book is to feel that Dr. Kalanithi still lives, with enormous power to influence the lives of others even though he is gone … I guarantee that finishing this book and then forgetting about it is simply not an option.”

Entertainment Weekly gives it a A-, remarking that its “unsentimental approach” gives the book its power:

“There’s no redemption here. Kalanithi died before he finished the book, leaving his wife Lucy to write a beautiful but painful epilogue. In the few hundred pages he completed, he chronicles his transition from doctor to patient with an acute clinical eye … Its only fault is that the book, like his life, ends much too early.”

The Washington Post calls it “an emotional investment well worth making” and as we reported earlier, it is an Indie Next pick for January as well. It is also an Amazon Best Book for January, where it is currently holds the #4 spot as the site’s bestselling book list.

Libraries bought it conservatively and as a result holds lists are skyrocketing past a 3:1 ratio with more than one library we checked adding more copies.

Below is a video, posted in The Washington Post, featuring Dr. Kalanithi reflecting on his prognosis (Note: if the video is unavailable below, link to it here, or read Kalanithi’s reflections here).

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