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Breakfast with Buddha

(Breakfast with Buddha series #1)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  16,487 ratings  ·  2,268 reviews
The only thing certain about a journey is that it has a beginning and an end—for you never know what may happen along the way. And so it is with this journey into the minds and souls of two very different men—one of them in search of the truth, the other a man who may have already found it.

When Otto Ringling, a husband, father, and editor, departs on a cross-country dr
Hardcover, 323 pages
Published September 7th 2007 by Algonquin Books (first published 2007)
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Carla Ann More often than not I found myself disliking his lengthy descriptions and analogies, but I really enjoyed the entire story as a whole. The ending felt…moreMore often than not I found myself disliking his lengthy descriptions and analogies, but I really enjoyed the entire story as a whole. The ending felt a bit abrupt. It seemed that there was a lot of buildup and emotional charge around Otto, his parents, and the house. There wasn't much explanation on how he really felt once there. I get it though, it's all about the journey, not the destination. Yet, I still felt there could have been a bit more to feel complete. (less)

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Average rating 3.83  · 
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 ·  16,487 ratings  ·  2,268 reviews

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May 09, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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
Jun 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club
Shallow and trite pap (think New Age Nicholas Sparks), but at least it's quick reading. Ugh. ...more
Jun 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 25, 2007 rated it liked it
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.
Oct 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-i-own
A little backstory on my choice of reading this book at this time:

Two of my coworkers and myself decided to start an informal bookclub. A book every few months then meet for coffee or drinks to talk. Since I own hundreds of books I asked if they minded my choosing books I already owned. I said I would choose books with highish ratings on GR and subjects I thought would appeal to all of us. They were fine with that decision.

So, I’ve owned this book for years, it gets good ratings, and it seemed l
Jan 01, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
I was surprisingly taken by this book. It is an unusual story of a drive from New Jersey to North Dakota by car - the narrator and his sister's guru. I loved the descriptions of American life and "Americana" that were a part of the book. Otto, the narrator, wanted to show the holy man America. As they travel the skeptic Otto begins rethinking his life - his upbringing in North Dakota, and his center, his wife and children.
A delightful book!
Chris Beal
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, audible
I really enjoyed this book. 3.5 stars
Amy Young
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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., 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
Oct 20, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Linda Robinson
Mar 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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,
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Philosophy laced with humor
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was ok
Facile life lessons disguised as a buddy road trip novel. If you are looking for a formula for a bestseller this is it: fortune cookie wisdom in an easy to digest narrative. For good measure you may want to throw in a mentally handicapped person or whatever word is appropriate for that condition these days, or maybe a transgender person because they are all the rage. Once again, this is a book of answers for people who are terrified that there are no answers. I would wager that people who love t ...more
Aug 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2008
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
Mar 02, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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. ...more
robin friedman
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
On The Road With Buddha

Novelistic road journeys frequently become spiritual journeys. So it is with Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" (1957)and "The Dharma Bums" and so it is as well with Roland Merullo's novel fifty years after Kerouac's: "Breakfast with Buddha (2007)." We don't have beats, mad sex, and the wildness of Dean Moriarty in Merullo's road novel from the American East to the Midwest. Rather we have a 44-year old successful New York City editor of books about food, named Otto Ringling, hap
Aug 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group
I was a little worried when I picked up Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo at the library and saw above the title that he was also the author of Golfing with God. I thought my book group had picked something from a hokey theology-lite series designed to provide self-help of some sort. What would be next? “Shuffleboard with Shiva”? “Mumblety-Peg with Mohammed”?

I was wrong to worry. It may be part of a series, but it was not hokey. This was, perhaps, exactly the book I needed to read at this
Ginger Harris
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Breakfast with Buddha is something of an introduction to spirituality to the skeptical, modern man. I am very happy to read from previous reviewers that this modern skeptic seems to be in the minority. Many readers have already done our spiritual adventuring, learning, and homework and all with an open mind. This guy, though probably represents must of white men in this country, doesn't represent spiritual seekers. He isn't even that funny. This book is not a comedy. I enjoyed the perspective of ...more
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book - I tried reading it many years ago and put it down. On this read I was lead on a spiritual Zen journey that really made me stop and thnk and opened my mind to new possibilities. The book is about an ordinary man who is tricked by his hippy(ish) sister to bring her guru friend across country. Along the way he is opened to new ideas - how to slow down and appreciate life with a good deal of humor and foresight. In return, he tries to show the guru America - in all it's forms fro ...more
Why were we all so proud of a style of living that splintered the family like so much dried out firewood? p15

...are we all just desperately looking for some strategy that will get us past the shoals of modern existence and safely in to that imagined calm fort?
I had the feeling that there might be something on the other side, waiting to draw itself to me.p19

Otto Ringling is proud of his style of living and his loving nuclear family-with the exception of his flaky sister Cecilia, who he love anyw
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, spirituality
I found this book wise, humorous, and absolutely delightful! My identification with Otto Ringling, an upstanding member of mainstream society who reluctantly finds himself on a cross-country road trip with his free-wheeling sister's current guru/holy man, was deep and heartfelt. His mixture of annoyance, curiosity, and embarrassment during this trip so closely mirrored my own in a similar situation that I laughed right out loud -- frequently! (My own situation? I drove an acquaintance to a cousi ...more
Kate Rademacher
May 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My husband I LOVED this book. Laughed out loud. Perfect!
Aug 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars! I went into this book expecting to hate it, but I didn't. It's basically the definition of a feel-good book. ...more
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Breakfast with Buddha 14 142 Apr 25, 2014 09:25PM  

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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

Other books in the series

Breakfast with Buddha series (3 books)
  • Lunch with Buddha
  • Dinner with Buddha

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