Tea and Tales with Cate and Allison discussion

When Breath Becomes Air
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Allie  | 131 comments Mod
Hey book lovers!

I hope you all enjoyed When Breath Becomes Air! We'll be discussing it this Thursday, June 9th at 6 PM PST. I hope you can join us - I think we're going to have an awesome discussion!

Allison & Cate


Caitlin Can't wait!!


Maria Z (mariazubair) | 3 comments Here from your Instagram request. Can't wait to join in on the discussion.


Chandra Claypool (WhereTheReaderGrows) (wherethereadergrows) Halfway through and hoping to finish today but unfortunately will not be able to make this discussion. Looking forward to reading what everyone has to say tomorrow though! Loving the book so far. :)


Allie  | 131 comments Mod
Hey everyone! Looking forward to discussing When Breath Becomes Air with you all tonight! As usual, please introduce yourself when you arrive and let us know whether or not you enjoyed the book.


Caitlin Hi my name is Caitlin and I live in New York. I absolutely loved this book and was sobbing as I finished it on the Amtrak Memorial Day weekend. I look forward to discussing with everyone!


Catie (catiebutler) | 225 comments Mod
Hey Caitlin! So glad you really enjoyed the book! Allison and I were just talking about how excited we were to discuss it. I gave it a 3.5 rating, the epilogue really did it for me. I thought it was so good!


Allie  | 131 comments Mod
Hey Caitlin! So glad you could join us! I, too, was a complete wreck as I read the end of this book. I couldn't keep it together!


Allie  | 131 comments Mod
Caitlin wrote: "Hi my name is Caitlin and I live in New York. I absolutely loved this book and was sobbing as I finished it on the Amtrak Memorial Day weekend. I look forward to discussing with everyone!"

Also, I used to live in New York!


Catie (catiebutler) | 225 comments Mod
Since we have a little bit of a smaller group tonight. I found great discussion questions from Random House. And thought I'd post them, if you'd like to read read through them, if any strike your interest let's discuss!

1. How did you come away feeling, after reading this book? Upset? Inspired? Anxious? Less afraid?

2. What did you think of Paul’s exploration of the relationship between science and faith? As Paul wrote, “Science may provide the most useful way to organize empirical, reproducible data, but its power to do so is predicated on its inability to grasp the most central aspects of human life: hope, fear, love, hate, beauty, envy, honor, weakness, striving, suffering, virtue. Between these core passions and scientific theory, there will always be a gap. No system of thought can contain the fullness of human experience.” Do you agree?

3. How do you think the years Paul spent, tending to patients and training to be a neurosurgeon, affected the outlook he had on his own illness? When Paul wrote that the question he asked himself was not “why me,” but “why not me,” how did that strike you? Could you relate to it?

4. Paul had a strong background in the humanities, and read widely throughout his life. Only after getting a Master’s in English Literature did he decide that medicine was the right path for him. Do you think this made him a better doctor? A different kind of doctor? If so, how? How has reading influenced your life?

5. What did you think of Paul and Lucy’s decision to have a child, in the face of his illness? When Lucy asked him if he worried that having a child would make his death more painful, and Paul responded, “Wouldn’t it be great if it did,” how did that strike you? Do you agree that life should not be about avoiding suffering, but about creating meaning?

6. Were there passages or sentences that struck you as particularly profound or moving?

7. Given that Paul died before the book was finished, what are some of the questions you would have wanted to ask him if he were still here today?

8. Paul was determined to face death with integrity, and through his book, demystify it for people. Do you think he succeeded?

9. In Lucy’s epilogue, she writes that “what happened to Paul was tragic, but he was not a tragedy.” Did you come away feeling the same way?

10. Lucy also writes that, in some ways, Paul’s illness brought them closer – that she FELL feel even more deeply in love with the “beautiful , focused man” he became in the last year of his life. Did you find yourself seeing how that could happen?

11. How did this book impact your thoughts about medical care? The patient-physician relationship? End of life care?

12. Is this a book you will continue thinking about, now that you are done? Do you find it having an impact on the way you go about your days?


Allie  | 131 comments Mod
In regard to question 4, I absolutely think that Paul's background in and love for the humanities and literature made him a better doctor. He really seemed to be so thoughtful when it came to his patients, like he considered them as people, as whole. I think this is unique - lots of doctors approach people as diagnoses, a chart with information on it. I think his preoccupation with the meaning of life also helped him better treat people who were terminally ill.


Caitlin I agree that the epilogue did me in. I think it's incredible that he wrote this book while going through what he went through


Catie (catiebutler) | 225 comments Mod
Allison, I completely agree! I really thought his background in literature and the humanities made him more approachable and understanding as a doctor; less clinical. Some of my favorite parts were the books and literature he mentioned! My inner book lover definitely loved seeing these little shout outs.


message 14: by Kelley (new) - added it

Kelley Rayos-Teixeira (amorkelley) | 13 comments hi im kelley from boston and i really liked the book.


Allie  | 131 comments Mod
Catie wrote: "Allison, I completely agree! I really thought his background in literature and the humanities made him more approachable and understanding as a doctor; less clinical. Some of my favorite parts were..."

Yes, those moments were just wonderful! It really made me realize how incredibly thoughtful he is, so much more so than the average person. And thoughtful people are some of the best people I know. They're such a pleasure to be around!


Allie  | 131 comments Mod
Kelley wrote: "hi im kelley from boston and i really liked the book."

Hi Kelley! You're in good company - we all really loved this book!


Catie (catiebutler) | 225 comments Mod
Hey Kelley! So glad you can join us tonight! I just posted a bunch of discussion questions. If there are any you specifically like, I'd love to hear your thoughts on them!


message 18: by Kelley (new) - added it

Kelley Rayos-Teixeira (amorkelley) | 13 comments i like that he was honest. he admitted to making mistakes, he admitted that he wanted to do things differently and he TRIED.


Allie  | 131 comments Mod
Kelley wrote: "i like that he was honest. he admitted to making mistakes, he admitted that he wanted to do things differently and he TRIED."

I agree. His honesty was really refreshing. He didn't try to sugarcoat or hide things - he was open about how difficult his struggle was and how much he suffered. But he still remained hopeful. I found that to be really admirable.


Caitlin So I was able to switch to my laptop as opposed to my phone, so I am better able to reply now!

In regards to question 1, I absolutely felt inspired after reading this book. The strength that the author demonstrated was just awe-inspiring. Add in the fact that he continued his career and it just blew my mind the perseverance that he had.

In regards to question to question 3, that part of the book struck me as well. To ask yourself "why not me" is a powerful statement. In my working life I am a mental health counselor and I notice that a lot of times it is asked "why did this happen to me". The way Paul phrased it in this novel really struck me. Why not me? Why not anyone?

In regards to question 4, I feel that I would not be the person that I am today if it were not for my love of literature. Every single book I have read, no matter what I would rate it, have shaped who I am today and the way I view things. I primarily read fiction, so this book was a break in my usual reading pattern, but I feel that each book I have read has lingered with me in some way.

In regards to question 12, this book absolutely impacted the way I view things and live my life. It may have taken this book to remind that life is short, and it is vital to live your life to the fullest.


Allie  | 131 comments Mod
Caitlin wrote: "So I was able to switch to my laptop as opposed to my phone, so I am better able to reply now!

In regards to question 1, I absolutely felt inspired after reading this book. The strength that the ..."


Yes to all of this, Caitlin! I, too, felt the same way about how the book reminds us not to take life or our time here for granted. I loved what Paul said after he found out about his diagnosis, about how he knew he was going to die but still didn't know when, which is the same about before his diagnosis pretty much. None of us know how much time we have, so we have to live life to the fullest every day.


Caitlin bookloversnest wrote: "Caitlin wrote: "So I was able to switch to my laptop as opposed to my phone, so I am better able to reply now!

In regards to question 1, I absolutely felt inspired after reading this book. The st..."


Absolutely!


Catie (catiebutler) | 225 comments Mod
Caitlin, what great comments and thoughts!! I love your perspective as a mental health counselor. I have a brother who is currently in medical school and I want him to read this book! Coming from a medical background I think he'd have such an interesting perspective on the book and also relate quite a bit to Paul's life and story.

My favorite comment is your last comment though. I think books which impact and change our lives are the absolute best! I always say a book that leaves you to ponder or discuss is a sign of a good book. And after reading this all I wanted to do was talk about it. :)


Caitlin Catie wrote: "Caitlin, what great comments and thoughts!! I love your perspective as a mental health counselor. I have a brother who is currently in medical school and I want him to read this book! Coming from a..."

I completely agree. On a bit of a tangent, as soon as I finished this book I started and finished "Me Before You" by JoJo Moyes and I have to say the combination of the two left me with a lot of lingering thoughts and an overwhelming urge to discuss with anyone and everyone exactly what I was feeling. Unfortunately, however, many people in my life had read neither book and were just humoring me I believe haha.


Catie (catiebutler) | 225 comments Mod
So funny you mention Me Before You! I went out to lunch with my Mom today and gave her my copy of the book to borrow and read. I said EXACTLY what you said about the book staying with you. It really made me think and have to evaluate some of my opinions and beliefs about death, life and illness. As did, When Breath Becomes Air.


Allie  | 131 comments Mod
Caitlin wrote: "Catie wrote: "Caitlin, what great comments and thoughts!! I love your perspective as a mental health counselor. I have a brother who is currently in medical school and I want him to read this book!..."

I just saw the movie the other night! These two are both very thought-provoking books. There's so much to think about and discuss!


Catie (catiebutler) | 225 comments Mod
I still need to see the movie! I heard they really did a great job! Especially with the cast.


Allie  | 131 comments Mod
Catie wrote: "I still need to see the movie! I heard they really did a great job! Especially with the cast."

Yes! It's so good! Though bring your tissues.


Caitlin Catie wrote: "I still need to see the movie! I heard they really did a great job! Especially with the cast."

They did an awesome job in the movie! The soundtrack added an extra layer to an already emotional story. And the cast was fantastic. Also very accurate with her bumble bee tights!


Catie (catiebutler) | 225 comments Mod
Yay! I'm so glad to hear you both liked it! And yes, already have a pack of tissues in my purse ready to go, lol!


Allie  | 131 comments Mod
Well ladies, this has been a great discussion! Thanks for joining us! I have to duck out now but hope you all have a wonderful evening!


Catie (catiebutler) | 225 comments Mod
If anyone would like to reply after this discussion in regards to any of the questions listed please feel free! Have a great night! Xx


Caitlin I am so glad I was able to participate in this discussion! This is the first one where I had both read the book on time, and been able to have access to my computer at the time of the discussion! I love being able to read something and discuss with others who love books as well!


Maria Z (mariazubair) | 3 comments Hi I'm Maria from Pakistan. And I absolutely adored the book.
I agree with reviewers here that the fact that Paul had such an immense love for literature is the reason he was able to pen such a beautiful memoir.
I'm a voracious reader so I hardly ever (or rather never) recommend a book to someone if I know they are not fond of reading. But this book I recommended to everyone I knew because it was just so beautiful.
It wouldn't change our outlook towards life as I don't consider it as a self help book, but it would make us think: life, and why are we here.


message 35: by Jill (last edited Aug 16, 2016 05:33PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jill (jillglove) Coming late to the party....

I wished I liked it more than I did. Maybe I'm biased, seeing How I worked with medical professionals for 35 years, but I found him to be a typical doctor with all the arrogance that goes with. I'm not a fan of the .25 cent word, which he dropped in frequently, and there were times in the book where he talked about all his accomplishments and I did a mental eye roll. I was pleased the he did recognize the weaknesses in his profession and maybe his book will help doctors going foward.

I think that resuming his hectic schedule too soon may have exasperated his health. Having a child should have put his life in perspective. Maybe I'm being to harsh....

He was fortunate to have access to the best medical care in the world, and I'm not begrudging him that, but he had a privileged death which most people don't.

It was beautiful written and I was touched the most by the part written by Lucy, but I was disappointed overall.


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