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The Delight of Being Ordinary

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,363 ratings  ·  233 reviews
Roland Merullo's playful, eloquent, and life-affirming novel finds the Pope and the Dalai Lama teaming up for an unsanctioned road trip through the Italian countryside to rediscover the everyday joys of life that can seem, even for the two holiest men in the world, unattainable.

What happens when the Pope and the Dali Lama decide they need an undercover vacation? During a h
ebook, 320 pages
Published April 11th 2017 by Doubleday
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This has the air of a whimsical religious fable. Narrated by the Pope’s cousin and first assistant, Paolo dePadova, it’s about how the Pope and the Dalai Lama manage to sneak away from the Vatican for a five-day Italian vacation. Paolo is a former travel agent and his ex-wife and co-conspirator, Rosa, is a hair and makeup artist, so they’re the perfect pair to arrange a last-minute road trip in disguises. They take a secret tunnel from the Pope’s private chapel into town and meet Rosa there, whe ...more
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a spot Paolo has been put in. His cousin, none other than the Pope himself, has asked Paolo to smuggle him and his visitor, the Dalai Lama, out of the Vatican so they can spend some time being ordinary men. That means getting past all of their security guards and disguising their much-too-well-known faces. Joining them will be Paolo’s estranged wife, Rosa. Paolo is soon branded a wanted kidnapper and his name and face are all over the news. The hunt and chase is on and this promises to be a ...more
Bam cooks the books ;-)
During an historic meeting between the Pope and the Dalai Lama in Rome, the two holy men decide to break away and travel incognito around the Italian countryside. The Pope enlists the help of his cousin, Paolo, with his estranged wife, Rosa, a hairstylist who provides the make-up and disguises to make their getaway.

Along the way, there is a delightful discussion of religious views as they see firsthand the problems of the modern world. And perhaps this trip isn't a random journey after all, as
Roger Brunyate
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Ecumenical Whimsy

I am thinking of starting a new bookshelf, labeled "whimsy." It would contain The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an IKEA Wardrobe, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, quite possibly The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and quite a few books by Alexander McCall Smith. Criteria would include a light narrative style, some humor, a huge suspension of disbelief, and the occasional ability to say something thought-provoking or even profound. The Delight of Being
Randal White
Blew My Mind! Imagine if the Pope and the Dalai Lama, together, escaped their entourages and embarked on a tour of the Italian countryside. No minders, no press, completely incognito. That is the very interesting premise of this book. Their experiences range from the ordinary to the extraordinary. The ending, without giving anything away, will blow your mind! Guaranteed to make you feel all warm inside, yet possibly shake you to your core. The author does an amazing job, making the entire caper ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is a book I would not have ever read on my own, as I am not a fan of parable of pop philosophy veiled as fiction. But it was an okay story about two religious leaders who just wanted to have an adventure. I read it for the first book club meeting of the new season. Hopefully we'll have Italian food because this book makes you hungry for it. ...more
Bob H
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
So, Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama sneak out of the Vatican and take a drive, incognito, across contemporary Italy. It sounds like the setup to a silly joke, but is the premise of a road-trip novel that is by turns comic, introspective, philosophical, and profound. It's fiction, but follows a believable theme, that these two famous men would like to have at least a few days alone and in ordinary settings. The Dalai Lama happens to be visiting the Vatican, the Pope is aware of a tunnel to the Ca ...more
Brenda Schneider
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
A wonderfully fun read. I really enjoyed it. I won this book through Goodreads.
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a follow-up to Breakfast with Buddha, also by Roland Merullo. The two books have much in common. Both have road trips. Both are spiritual with concepts for the reader to learn. In the Delight of Being Ordinary, the road trip is taken by Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama. The purpose of the trip is to escape the trappings of their celebrity/office and enjoy anonymity for a few days. The author provides insights and life lessons to the reader through interactions with the various people ...more
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I truly enjoyed this book. the end, “religion” is immaterial. What really matters is how you treat people day in and day out: with respect, acceptance, appreciation, kindness and generosity. That is all we really have control over and that is all that really matters. At least in my opinion. Though admittedly, I do believe in reincarnation...but no deities, no “organized religion,” and I felt this was the message in this story. And...material success does not necessarily mean you are happ ...more
Feb 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Delight of Being Ordinary is the reason I read books. How else to take yourself out of the darkness of the headlines, the political controversies, the hate filled rhetoric of our elected officials and government than to read a novel with the Pope and the Dalai Lama as two central characters that team up for a road trip that will make you laugh and appreciate the ordinary things in life as well as the extraordinary. I Loved it!
I was intrigued by the plot and I thought this novel might be light or even deceptively light but really thought-provoking. But I just couldn't get into it; it was just too silly and contrived. There was also something in the tone of the writing that I didn't care for, although I couldn't put my finger on it. ...more
Kathy McC
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I always enjoy Merullo's novels. Whimsical, but not fluffy. Good change of pace. ...more
Rian Nejar
Intriguing, imaginative, and decidedly irreverent.

The book title intrigued me - how did Roland Merullo bring out the essence of simplicity, the joys of shedding pretensions and embracing humility in life - but, in my limited perception, no significant enlightenment in this aspect could be gleaned within. Instead, one finds costumes, a fancy machine, a road trip funded by unlimited Vatican wealth (that, in a handful, could almost pay the bill for said Maserati), Mussolini, and the decadence of It
Sep 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama, spiritual
The author takes the “spiritual road trip” to a new level with a romp through the Italian countryside, totally delightful! This story is the perfect blend of hilarious and thought-provoking…but better because I could so easily picture two of the main characters (the Pope and the Dalai Lama) in my mind as the adventure unfolded. Both entertaining and “deep”, and put me in a great mood with each read - loved it!!
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recently, we saw the documentary "Pope Francis A Man of His Word" by Wim Wenders - WOW!
After having seen that, and then reading this, I really could imagine Pope Francis doing a "walkabout" with the Dali Lama!

The Pope enlists his "neurotic" cousin Paolo to arrange all the details for this escape - poor Paolo, he really thinks it is a joke at first, then when reality sets in 'OH NO' he really, really means it. Paolo enlists the help of his estranged wife, Rosa, - they live in Italy and are Catho
Apr 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title is exactly right for men with such high status. I enjoyed this book but felt is was more like a road trip of marriage counseling for the Pope's faithful cousin. Put that aside what adventures they had & conversation were said was enjoyable and fun to imagine. And that is what books are for to let our mind live in another world & enjoy. ...more
Jun 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Beautiful writing, no dramatic tension, positive but sometimes shallow message, and unpleasant ableism about mental health and neurodiversity. Splitting the difference between the good and bad aspects, I would give it 2.5 stars.

As a Christian married to a Buddhist, I could be considered the ideal audience for this book. My Episcopal church group just finished a video series about Pope Francis that left us with great admiration for his humble piety and concern for the poor, though naturally we di
Mary Carlomagno
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This aptly named book is as delightful as it is insightful. Reminiscent of the Alchemist, Merullo takes the reader through an utterly magical journey with finely drawn sympathetic characters, spiritual wisdom and satisfying plot twists. It was a lovely little novel wrapped up in a parable. I was entertained, enlightened and delighted. Beautifully written, genuine and oh so, entertaining!
Caidyn (he/him/his)
May 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf, religion
This review and others can be found on BW Book Reviews.

DNF at 25%

I had such high hopes for this book. Some sort of dialogue between Pope Francis and the Dalai Lama. Sure, it's fiction, but if someone does their research right about the religions and what each man actually has said to show their theology, then you've got a good book. Point out the similarities between the two religions while showing the differences. You have to have a happy medium between those two.

Not this book.

Basically, it has
Sarah Peterman
Dec 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I had a love hate relationship with this book. I disliked the main character at first. He seemed so self important, smug, at ease with being the Pope's assistant but forgetting that he was also his cousin.

Slowly though, you could start reading the changes in his character. He became more likable.

I thought for sure that I would put this book down unfinished. Sure that Catholicism would be the primary religion in this book. That was not the case however. Written is a nice blend of both Catholicism
Camelia Rose
An enjoyable, humorous read, especially if you don't mind some religious talk - I don't, as long as it stays on philosophical level and not too zealous. Interesting - if not new - thoughts on current day European immigrates from Middle Eastern countries.

The story is based on a strange plot but the author delivered well - at least the Pope part. My only problem is that the voice of Dalai Lama does not feel authentic enough - his character is much more rich and complicate that what is portrayed i
Apr 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality, 2017
This book was such fun to read. Imagine the Pope and the Dalai Lama out for a four-day ordinary day vacation. Nothing is ever that simple yet the story is fun and thoughtful. I was surprised in the end as it brought in the characters from Dinner with Buddha and did leave me thinking about maybe, could it be and I wonder. Those are the best kinds of books for me. ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I pretty much love all things Merullo. Very few of his books have not made my hit parade. And this is no exception. Took a few pages to become fully engaged and then......we were off. Couldn't put it down. Interesting juxtaposition having just finished reading "The Book of Joy" by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I will admit that I was gobsmacked at the end of "The Delight...." and I am sure I will be thinking about this book for a very long time. ...more
Mar 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
Well this book is gonna get two reviews from me since this will actually be my daughter's who swiped iit from my room saying omg I gotta read this I loved breakfast with budda! She says it's one of the Brest books she read (this one) so when she gets around to giving it back I will leave my review lol ...more
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved it!!!!!!!!!!! Continuation of Breakfast w/ Buddha, Lunch w/ Buddha & Dinner with Buddha.
Samah Allawi
Sep 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Italy, Christianity, Buddhism, (spirituality in general) mussolini, costumes, relationships adventures,
Five long days and a journey worth having.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
The Pope and the Dalai Lama, along with the Pope's cousin and the cousin's estranged wife, head out on the road, in disguise, secretly, for an ordinary getaway.

The idea of it sounds so delightful, an opportunity for two leaders of two huge spiritual groups to talk together and share thoughts, perhaps become friends.

Instead, most of the story was about the cousin and his wife, separated, unable to get along. There were elements of the story that annoyed me, such as having both the Pope and the
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a kind of extension of the Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner With Buddha books. The Pope and the Dalai Lama take off together for a little "vacation" in Italy without telling anybody but the Pope's cousin and his wife. Rimpoche and Otto show up from the Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner books but are sort of peripheral characters at the very end. I didn't feel that this book had the insight or wisdom of the first three, but it was interesting. A little too much about the marital problems of the Pope's cousin. ...more
Jun 30, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting novel filled with spiritual, philosophical and psychological questions/discussions. I wish I had read this more slowly and closely as there was much to ponder. Apparently the author's previous Buddha titles included characters who also appear here and I almost hope he writes another follow up resolving or at least exploring what the future brings re the outcome of the visions and dreams that led the two holy men on their quest. ...more
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ROLAND MERULLO is an awarding-winning author of 24 books including 17 works of fiction: Breakfast with Buddha, a nominee for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, now in its 20th printing; The Talk-Funny Girl, a 2012 ALEX Award Winner and named a "Must Read" by the Massachusetts Library Association and the Massachusetts Center for the Book; Vatican Waltz named one of the Best Books of 201 ...more

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