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Breakfast with Buddha (Breakfast with Buddha series #1)

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  7,672 ratings  ·  1,382 reviews
When his sister tricks him into taking her guru on a trip to their childhood home, Otto Ringling, a confirmed skeptic, is not amused. Six days on the road with an enigmatic holy man who answers every question with a riddle is not what he'd planned. But in an effort to westernize his passenger—and amuse himself—he decides to show the monk some "American fun" along the way. ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published August 26th 2008 by Algonquin Books (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Michelle
What a wonderful surprise this book was! I came upon it by accident and found all of the secrets of life oozing out of the pages. It was funny, and tragic and overwhelming all at the same time. In the tradition of the great across-America reads, it offered little snapshots of our country as Mr. Otto Ringling and his sister's guru journey back to Otto's home to settle some necessary business.

I loved this book as much for the questions, as for the answers.
Cheryl
I am always searching for a book like this: funny, wise, philosophical, magical, but real at the same time. So much fiction that gets awards and rave reviews is so depressing! This book is great if anyone is open to what Buddhism can teach, and if they are skeptical, they will feel instant kinship to the main character who takes a guru (mainly Buddhist, but he incorporates some Taoism and Hinduism and others) on a roadtrip to North Dakota. I am changed just from reading it once, but I will again ...more
Lyn
I cannot help comparing Breakfast with Buddha to a Mitch Albom book because of the juxtaposition of spiritual elements within an American cultural framework. However, whereas Albom’s work tends toward the syrupy, Roland Merullo’s book eschews any magic realism and stays on the beaten path for a spiritual journey. And that is what this novel is, an introspective expedition that parallels an actual physical journey and put together as ably as a modern Joseph Conrad meditation.

Actually this reminde
...more
Nancy
Sometimes, a book comes along just when you need it.

When I was twenty-something, I read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" and it pushed me toward becoming a different kind of human being. I've read a lot of "spiritual guide" literature, since then, learning more or less about the eternal search for peace and meaning in living. But "Breakfast With Buddha" would sit near the top of the list, with "Zen" and a few others, a lovely tale that enlarges perspectives without beating you over th
...more
L
Hmm.. slightly artificial. Maybe the problem I had with the book was that the spiritual journey of the main character was so short, he already lives around the block from Nirvana, he is sensitive, loving and committed. He did not have much to overcome. He already is infatuated with his wife, loves his teens with the adoration of a toddler dad and hasn't really suffered much. Anybody out there have teens? Oh, and did I mention he is not too rich but just rich enough not to need the hefty proceeds ...more
Resa
This isn’t the kind of book I usually read, and when I first started I though it was going to hover dangerous close over the self-help line. It took less than a chapter for me to realize that wasn’t true. This book was not only refreshingly original on a “religious/inspirational” level, but it was refreshingly original for a fiction book. While it won’t appeal to you if you don’t have any kind of spiritual side (agnostics/atheists won’t be too amused), if you do have any kind of beliefs about sp ...more
dina
There are moments in this book that are great. The chapter when he stays at an inn where he went with his wife is touching and real. There are some sweet moments between the main character and his travel partner...the guru Rinpoche. I liked the idea of the book more than the book but it does have some moments that make it well worth reading.
Deb
1.5 stars. I wasn't in the mood for this book...
As a friend said, the author does too much navel gazing." I'm glad Merullo is a "seeker of enlightenment", but nothing happened in the book. The 2 main characters, the ordinary middle aged successful "author/editor" and the "guru" he travels with, are not very interesting. The guru's language skills are mediocre, as are all the conversations - and that's what makes up most of the book.
C'mon Novel Women book group, let's preview the books more car
...more
Erin
Shallow and trite pap (think New Age Nicholas Sparks), but at least it's quick reading. Ugh.
Chris Beal
This is a wonderful book. I've read it twice and it impressed me in different ways each time. The story is about an upper middle-class man in a happy marriage with kids he loves. But when his parents are killed in a car accident, he begins to doubt that his comfortable life is all there is. He has to go back to North Dakota, where he grew up, to take care of the estate, and his “flaky” sister contrives to have her guru come along for the ride. The guru is a “Rinpoche” from Siberia. I had thought ...more
Amy
What a surprising gem this book turned out to be! I rolled my eyes when a friend placed it in my hands with an emphatic recommendation. I am not big on books with religious undertones, especially ones that seem like they're out to sway my beliefs. My first impression of Buddha was that it would be an attempt to do just that.
Well...book, judge, cover, etc...was I wrong. This book was hilarious, inspirational, thought-provoking and emotional. I felt like I was riding along in the car with Otto and
...more
Christina
This one was found while wandering the stacks of Borders while my husband looked for books for his classroom. It seemed like a funny enough premise so I requested it from the library. What a great way to spend a beautiful afternoon outside with the puppy!!

Well crafted with a very personable first person narrative Mr. Merullo really makes you feel as if you are along for the ride with these two men! At the end of the book he does say that it is based on a similar cross country trip he took which
...more
kate
I am ambivalent about this one. On the one hand, I would recommend it, with considerable enthusiasm. On the other hand, it is not a good book.

I would recommend it because it is light-hearted, digestible, but still had the capacity to inspire joyful introspection.

It is, however, not in any capacity good literature. Ham-fisted is an understatement. I happen to enjoy descriptions of food, but if you do not, brace yourself, it will be a rocky ride. Every meal is described in relatively prosaic detai
...more
Steve Pifer
I actually enjoyed this book, but I cant really justify giving it a 4 star review as its not on the level of so many serious literary works. That goal was not the point of this writing, or at least I hope it wasnt. The problem is, I dont think its fair to rate it at 3 stars either. 3.80 would be about right, and if I ever figure out how to provide that exact measurement on Goodreads, I will be happy to comply.
In any case, this was a very nice break from my normal reading list, where, quite often
...more
Debbie
What a delightful find this gem was. I was in a situation where I had too many credits on Audible.com and had to use them so I quickly read the description and thought this might be fun. Indeed it was FUN, it was full of wisdom and a quiet, sublte message to me.

The characters and their interaction often made me smile. You could feel poor Otto's dread as he got stuck with his passenger for an across the country trip. I loved the lesson of not judging based on pre-conceived notions or appearances.
...more
Lisa
I quote Chris on this (read her/his whole review, it's well done), but I didn't have the same total experience--mine was a 5-star read through and through. Loved most everything about it, ending included (I thought it was sweet).

Anyway, Chris caught the essence. What is beyond the words quoted below (and also in her/his review) is the plot, fiction and interest in the characters. To say, this is the idea behind the book, but it's a fun fictional read:

This book was what I call an ‘Introduction To
...more
Amy Rutten
Buddhism is hard to explain. Sometimes I think it is best explained by talking about something else, as the Zen masters are fond of doing. Roland Merullo succeeds in that approach in Breakfast with Buddha. Otto Ringling is proud of himself. He is content with his nice job as a senior editor at a publishing house, with his nice kids, nice wife, and nice life. Except he’s not content, really, and he doesn’t know why. After the sudden death of his aging parents he begins wondering about “…the purpo ...more
Elizabeth
Interesting book. Although it is a work of fiction, the road trip which serves as the outline for the story was actually undertaken by the author.

Basically a man, with the unlikely name f Otto Ringling needs to drive from New York to North Dakota to settle his parents’ estate. When he goes to pick-up his sister (whose is the diametric opposite of his straight laced, buttoned down world), she announces that her spiritual guru, Volya Rinpoche will accompany him instead. She also intends to give h
...more
Linda Robinson
Credit to the author for allowing me to see past my own busyness, cynicism, egocentricity to find the true message in Merullo's book. I was so uncomfortable with Otto Ringling, I had to put the book down, take a walk and figure out what was bothering me. It was me. The snide humor, authoritarian posture and stiff-necked Midwestern Mr. Ringling made me irritable. Once I figured out it was because he reminded me of me, I succumbed to the lesson of the book. Volvo Rinpoche, his bohling and meditati ...more
Denise Atwood
I lolved this book. It is the story of a man travelling cross country. Through a series of events he ends up taking his sister's friend, a monk, with him. He is totally uncertain of the way thing will go but they end up having a unique relationship. I love the descriptions of the places they go, which are real. Then there is the journey of faith and the understanding of enlightenmnet. It is one of my recent favorites. I learned a lot and it made me think about my beliefs and the state of our wor ...more
Emily
I felt a little manipulated by this book, as if it was written to be a "book club book". Nevertheless, I was caught up in the story and related with the main character. I became completely engrossed and read it quickly. I like thinking about the things it made me think about and made me interested in reading some of the literature the author lists that he read. Also, it is true that the waitstaff at Siam are constantly filling your water glasses! I think the author would have much preferred Camb ...more
Jessica Pollner
I really enjoyed this book. Stumbled upon it because it was a kindle "daily deal" and found I couldn't put it down. It is lighthearted and humorous and gives a great slice of Americana, while giving you a lot to think about in regards to the way you live your life and the greater universe without being preachy or overly new-agey. It would be a great intro to the powers of meditation and clearing your mind for someone who is cynical about these things- like the main character, Otto Ringlng, himse ...more
lee lee
Sep 21, 2008 lee lee rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: buddhists who don't want to say they're participating in religion
Recommended to lee lee by: renee gold
honestly, i didn't care for this book. i couldn't really get into the plot and i thought merullo's characterization was weak. the premise is semi-interesting, so i'm sure he could've done a better job with the writing. however, i still don't think he could've convinced me of his "moral," which seems to be that you can always be more spiritual/a better person than who you are now. while i definitely believe in growth and growth potentials, right now i'm more preoccupied with accepting myself as-i ...more
Amy
This is a book that I think can either bore you or inspire you, depending on where in your life you are at the particular moment that you read it.

There were two things that stuck with me after reading this book: "Why so angry?" and "This is not a world for easy." Both of these statements struck a nerve.

Remember to let things go. To release anger and bitterness and impatience. Our society lately seems to be so very angry--angry about immigration, angry about gay marriage, angry about a woman's r
...more
Chrissy
I truly needed this book, at this exact time; thank you, Susan Glassmoyer, for reminding me to read it! One of my favorite lines is the Buddhist prayer from pgs 193-194: "All that we are is the result of what we have thought: It is built on our thoughts, it is made from our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with evil thought, pain follows him, just like the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the...cart....If a person speaks or acts with pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow ...more
Sara
A lovely, funny, moving novel. No description does it justice, but I am pulled towards reviving my too-long dormant meditation practice. And that is really something.
Cathy Hardy
I started out really likeing this book. It was funny, entertaining, and I liked the many ways of seeing God that were presented. The narrator is on a road trip back to his parent's house to settle their estate. They were both killed in a car accident. He ends up taking along a passenger as a favor to his sister. This passenger is a sort of monk or holy man. At first he is very skeptical, but by the time they reach their desitnation he is sold on the wisdom and almost deity of his passenger.
Towa
...more
Jim
Have you ever been stuck in a car with a middle-aged man having a mid-life crisis? Oh, and did I mention, he's got a famous guru along for the ride? That's about what Breakfast with Buddha feels like . . . not that it is all bad. In fact, the guru's explanation of life being like a glass of water with dirt stirred up in it might make the entire journey worthwhile by itself.

Overall, this was a light read with a few good tidbits of "Buddhist" thinking tossed in now and then. Those thoughts, illust
...more
Wendi
This is one of my new favorite books. I saw so much of myself in Otto Ringling - the struggle of living what I would consider a good life but still feeling like something is missing. I don't mean for this "review" to be so long, but I feel this true connection to this book, to Otto and the journey he was on. It's my journey too.

Grew up learning about Christianity on my own. I mean, my mom gave me a head start taking me to church when I was little and then periodically after that.

It wasn't until
...more
Laura
I don’t understand why I enjoyed this book so much. I stopped about 1/3 f the way through, but then picked it back up and just kept reading. It felt like a non fiction essay – full of one man’s search for truth and enlightenment kind of thing. It was written in the first person and had all the trials and tribulations, doubt and skepticism that usually accompanies such essays. But it is fiction. In a little afterward the author explain that he trip across the country was one he had made, so a lot ...more
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Breakfast with Buddha 14 128 Apr 25, 2014 09:25PM  
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ROLAND MERULLO is the acclaimed author of twelve previous books, including Revere Beach Boulevard, In Revere in Those Days, A Little Love Story, Golfing with God, Breakfast with Buddha, Lunch with Buddha and American Savior. Merullo has won numerous prizes, including the Massachusetts Book Award for both fiction and nonfiction. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife and two children.
More about Roland Merullo...

Other Books in the Series

Breakfast with Buddha series (3 books)
  • Dinner with Buddha
  • Lunch with Buddha
The Talk-Funny Girl A Little Love Story Lunch with Buddha Golfing with God: A Novel of Heaven and Earth American Savior: A Novel of Divine Politics

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“If Christ's message could be distilled down to one line, that line would have to do with kindness and inclusiveness, not rules and divisiveness.” 12 likes
“I have a tremendous fascination with the United States of America, the grand, swirling variousness of it, the way it siphons off the ambitious, the poor, and the abused from so many other nations, the ability we seem to have to be noble and heroic at the same time as we are being arrogant and stupid.” 7 likes
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