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Breakfast with Buddha (Breakfast with Buddha series #1)

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  10,235 Ratings  ·  1,683 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, 352 pages
Published August 26th 2008 by Algonquin Books (first published 2007)
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Princes A little. I thought Rinpoche will give up from getting part of house or something..it's too unreal this end.
Siddhartha by Hermann HesseThe Alchemist by Paulo CoelhoThe Infinite Jeff by Will HolcombPursuit by Jim MurdochIllusions by Richard Bach
Best Spiritual Fiction
11th out of 85 books — 114 voters
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Different Takes on Religion & Spirituality
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Lyn
Jun 07, 2016 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Michelle
Jun 29, 2008 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, spiritual
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
Nancy
Sep 09, 2012 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 29, 2009 L rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 19, 2012 Resa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Erin
May 24, 2012 Erin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Shallow and trite pap (think New Age Nicholas Sparks), but at least it's quick reading. Ugh.
dina
Oct 25, 2007 dina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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 Young
Oct 23, 2013 Amy Young rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Deb
Jan 01, 2009 Deb rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual, book-group
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
kate
Dec 21, 2012 kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Emily
Jul 30, 2016 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
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
Vonia
I have a few mixed feelings on this one. The road trip Ottis Ringling sets out on from New York to North Dakota is not so much what makes the novel's story; it is actually the vessel in which the author interweaves philosophical ramblings, the meaning of life ponderings, Christian sentiments, and Buddhist beliefs. I have the hypothesis that these are, moreover, his own beliefs.

Did I agree with some of these? Yes. But a lot of them were extreme, maybe making things a little over simplified. Yes,
...more
Christina
Aug 27, 2008 Christina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, library
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
Janice
I loved this book. I didn't know much about it when I started, but was delighted with it. The author uses such a light touch to introduce his character's and their differing spiritual approaches to life. The road trip is used as an exploration of restaurants and countryside, from New Jersey to North Dakota, but also as a journey into the deeper realms of each of these men's values and souls. There is a lot of humor, but also a lot to ponder.
Linda Robinson
Mar 11, 2012 Linda Robinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Saiisha
May 23, 2016 Saiisha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I think this is more of a 3.5 stars for me, although I wanted to like it more :) I liked the premise of the book, and I thought it started off well enough, but the pace didn't change at all through out the book. It didn't seem believable that the inner growth that happened for Otto (the main character) was only through the few conversations he has with the Buddha who's going along with him on a long road trip from NJ to ND. There was a lot of navel gazing on the part of Otto, but it somehow miss ...more
Steve Pifer
Oct 02, 2014 Steve Pifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 14, 2015 Debbie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
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
Kathryn
Jul 12, 2015 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality, 2015
First sentence: My name is Otto Ringling (no circus jokes, please) and I have a strange story to tell.

Favorite quote: Sees would have called it a premonition, or an "energy message." But I did not deal in energy messages, and so it was strange to me, a sort of intermittent knocking at the door of my house of belief.

What a good book. I ran across the third book in the series. Dinner with Buddha while shelving books at the library. I looked it up and found there were three books in the series (bre
...more
Jim
Nov 04, 2011 Jim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Lisa
Mar 06, 2012 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Wendi
May 22, 2009 Wendi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Amy Rutten
Jul 20, 2012 Amy Rutten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stacy Boyles
Apr 30, 2015 Stacy Boyles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-audiobook
I have over 100 audiobooks and 300 books to listen to and read. I get on library waiting lists for most new best sellers as I only buy heavily discounted books. I say this because it excites me to no end when I blindly grab one that I know nothing about and love it! This is what happened with Breakfast with Buddha. I'm sure that Sean Runnette's narration helped a lot with this assessment. I stayed up late and drove slowly to work to enjoy this book. It lightened my heart and even made me want to ...more
konami
Jun 27, 2013 konami rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i am rereading this book since i just bought the sequel.



I gave this book 5 stars because I heard an interview with the author on my local NPR station, and was compelled to read it. I had just lost my father and like in the book, loss of a parent(s) and Otto's experience to 'find' himself and meaning of it all allowed me to find solace. It was the laughter in Otto's thinking and how he experienced new things which brings one to the feeling we have no control of our destiny and how life comes abo
...more
Denise Atwood
Feb 04, 2008 Denise Atwood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jessica Pollner
Jan 06, 2013 Jessica Pollner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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Breakfast with Buddha 14 136 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

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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.” 17 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.” 8 likes
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