Category Archives: Autobiography

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Published / by Elizabeth / 1 Comment on When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

I read several reviews of this memoir and was possessed with an incessant desire to read it. Now, I have developed a problem in the recent years: I have lost the ability to buy books without a reason. May be it is because of the guilt from the number of unread books on my bookshelf and kindle. So I spent a few days wondering if I should buy this book …and then I got a good excuse to buy it.

I realized I should get TH a gift for his birthday and what could be a better gift than a book? I ignored the voice in the back of my mind telling that this might not be the best book as a birthday gift. Anyway I went ahead and ordered it. I read the book within days of its arrival and I have extracted a promise from TH that he will read it one day. To be frank, I do not see him reading soon.

Paul was passionate about literature and pursued it with all will and passion. Then he realized that that literature does touch souls in many ways, but not to the depth what he yearns. That yearning brought him to the steps of a medical college and there he was for next few years of his life.

I wonder about the amount of courage and conviction  it takes to leave the career path after years of hard work? Paul would have been looking forward to years of helping people to fulfill his life’s desire of helping people when he was diagnosed with cancer.

Terminal disease is something that is difficult to deal with. As a doctor, Paul was aware of his condition and how fast can it deteriorate.  After treatment, there occurred a time when he could back to his medical practice,go back to neurosurgery and work like any other doctor in his profession. Soon his cancer relapsed, bringing an end to his medical career and brought along the realization that there might not be many days left for him.

I admire the courage Paul had to write down this memoir when he realized he was dying and did it when he was undergoing harsh treatment. I loved reading his thoughts about life and his career path. The writing may not be of  great literary quality and the prose has gone a bit overboard at few places. But there is something honest about his writing that kept me glued to the book. I confess that I just skipped through some of the prose, after all I wanted to know what happened after that.

What surprised me the most about his life is their decision to have a baby, something unusual when one of the couple is having a terminal disease. After all, the baby will have to grow up without one of them. In the end I loved reading about the girl’s birth and the amount of joy she brought to Paul’s last days.

The epilogue by his wife Lucy Kalanithi brings a good closure to the book. A good round of editing would have been good for the overall writing quality of the book, but I liked that much of it was as how Paul wrote it.

When Breathe Becomes Air may not contain the best writing, but it is still worth every minute of reading for the experience. Do give it a try even if it may make you cry.

Note: Do search for Paul Kalanithi on youtube and watch some videos made on him. Here is one of them: Dying Doctor’s Memoir Teaches About Life And Loss

Call me Elizabeth by Dawn Annandale – Book Review

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How far will you go to ensure the happiness of your kids? What will you do if you were in Dawn’s place? How would have you managed the same situation? I think these are questions that will be running perpetually in the back of your mind while reading this book, especially if you are a married woman with kids.

Dawn Annandale is a mother of six kids and the family was deeply in debt that they could be evicted out of their beautiful house any time. Her husband was quite passive about the situation and Dawn had no hope that he will take charge of the situation and do something to keep the house. Coming from a difficult family, the last thing that Dawn wanted was her kids to lose the sense of loving and security they are currently experiencing. 

Dawn’s attention is grabbed when she sees an advertisement for escort girls which will pay her around $300 per night. Dawn’s desperateness drives her to give the profession a try and later on when she finds that she manage to make more money doing prostitution, she leaves her job and goes into full night escort work. Step by step Dawn is able to manage her finances in a much better way.

This book is supposed to be an autobiography of Dawn Annandale which is the reason why the book has a very long title. “Elizabeth” is the psuedonym that she uses in her alternate profession.

My Thoughts 

Call me Elizabeth: Wife, Mother, Escort is a book that needs to be read with an open mind considering the sensitive nature of the story when you imagine Dawn to be a mother of six and woman who is still married to her husband. Dawn has extensively tried to justify her decision to go into the oldest profession, and her children’s happiness and sense of security is the prime factor. Her narration is simple but not boring, and she has taken good care not to make it like a porn magazine. But I should say that she has given enough information to give an idea about the dangers of her profession too. Her decision to go into the profession is more justified by the amount of money she made when she went into the profession as a full time profession at night.

This book is an interesting read though some narrations related to her profession may make you uncomfortable. I had my sympathy with Dawn especially when people whom she knew started harrassing her and threatening her. I was relieved when she finally decided to leave her job.

May be the disappointing part of the book was when I learned that Dawn Annandale went ahead and started an escort business of her own once she left her job as an escort. Her experiences as a business woman has been written in another book Call Me Madam: From Mother to Madam. It is difficult to justify this business when we know that Dawn was no longer financially desperate enough to do this. She is also not addressing the question of what would be her kids’ reactions when they come to know what their mother did for their happiness.

 My verdict: Grab this book for an interesting read, but then try to keep your mind open

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Adventures in Two Worlds by A J Cronin–Book Review

Published / by Elizabeth / 1 Comment on Adventures in Two Worlds by A J Cronin–Book Review
Adventures in Two Worlds 

Rating : 5/5
Genre: Autobiography
Source : Own second hand copy
Year of Release: 1952

One of my initial responses to Adventures in Two Worlds by A J Cronin was disappointment.  I was disappointed that the author has written a story which is very much similar to his acclaimed novel – The Citadel. I could recall a few of the stories from The Citadel which has been written in this book with a few changes in the details.Guess this is not what we expect from a famous author like A J Cronin.right?

I should say that by the second half of the book I was blown away by this book. Reading it became an adventure. I felt the first half story was written for the sake of writing, but reading the second half of the book was a true joy in itself.

Let me confess something to my readers at this point. I had never come across the fact that this book is an autobiography of the author until I just looked it up in Wikipedia. I felt it is so because the protagonist in this book becomes a writer towards the end of the story. Yea, I made a big blunder by assuming that this is another novel by A J Cronin.

Should I be ashamed of this late knowledge ? Yes and no. I was confused why the author would add details from one novel in another story with a similar background. Anyway I am so happy to have read this book, but I wish I had known that it was his autobiography. I loved reading his thoughts about his patients. Actually the author was able to take his readers close to his patients; we can read his feelings for his patients.

Another part which I enjoyed reading in this book was his religious views. They are so beautiful. Yea, it is true that I could relate to them because I share similar views. I found the final part more touching that the rest of the book.

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