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Shopping for Buddhas Paperback


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Product Details

  • Series: Travel Literature
  • Paperback: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Lonely Planet (September 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 086442471X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0864424716
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,062,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Waist-high snow, a flying lama and the first escalator in Kathmandu are among the many attractions Greenwald experienced during his stays in Nepal. His often flip tone belies a serious purpose, and his account of shopping for just the right statue of Buddha illuminates various aspects of Nepalese culture. He discusses some of the gods and beliefs of Hinduism and proposes his own list of possible bodhisattvas, whom he describes as people who "recognize . . . their peculiar function" in life (including Mother Teresa and John Lennon). He learns of the Nepalese concept of perfect art, seeks the advice of a guru who wears Ray-Bans and faces the maneuverings of shopkeepers who cater to foreign buyers. Nor does Greenwald overlook the darker side of this country, now undergoing political upheavals. Nepal has been the site of documented human rights abuses, its royal family exploits the country's resources and may be central to promoting drug trafficking there, foreign aid to this impoverished country is distributed among a small number of people, and valuable works of art from temples are being smuggled out of the country. Greenwald is a contributing editor to SF Magazine. Author tour.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-- While sounding like a shopping guide for Nepal at the beginning, this book leads readers into some strange, appalling, and extremely uplifting experiences. This true account of Greenwald's various Nepal trips--the last in 1989--shows an outstanding way with words, as the author keeps readers entertained and aghast at a Tibetan flying through the air, Nepalese having a first escalator ascent, the back alleys of Kathmandu, an electrified crow, and the looting of Nepalese treasures. For those wanting a good adventure and a little religion and philosophy, it is an enlightening account. For those needing more multicultural materials, it's a godsend.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Some of the humor is very mordant.
Stephen O. Murray
For those of us who are just a little too serious, it could help to lighten up a bit.
Jeff Sutherland
The book is an easy read, quirky and interesting.
Cathy Dwyer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Stephen O. Murray VINE VOICE on January 18, 1999
Format: Paperback
Although often very funny, the book is not frivolous. There is plenty of self-deprecating humor in it, some of it quite broad, but there is also searing criticism of corruption (exporting looted antiquities and importing heroin, both tied to the Nepali royal family) and the corruption of production of images of gods, goddesses, and Buddhas for the tourist market. Some of the humor is very mordant. I happened to be reading this book in another tourist-overrun part of Southeast Asia where there are many shoddy Buddhas for sale, and just after reading Mark Twain's _Roughing It_. _Shopping for Buddhas_ seemed to me more reliable and every bit as funny as Mark Twain's tale of going and staying in the American West and getting halfway to Kathmandu (Hawai'i).
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Piper1025 on February 18, 2000
Format: Paperback
I think travel, regardless of the country(ies) it might take you, is perhaps best approached with a touch of whimsy and a sense of adventure. Truly seasoned travelers have the ability and willingness to absorb another culture while laughing at both the experiences they face and at the preconceived notions they bring with them. I've just finished Shopping with Buddhas and Greenwald seems to be that kind of traveler.
I enjoyed this book because, among other things, it brought the colors of the subcontinent (where I grew up) to life. Greenwald spends most of the book in a near obsessive hunt for a perfect statue of the Buddha, only to find it when he is least expecting it and at a price he is hesitant to pay. Which, when you think about it, is an interesting reflection on how things of true value come to us when we least expect it, and ask of us a price we may not be willing to pay at first. I also like that Greenwald is unafraid to take whimsical potshots at his western outlook on many eastern situations! I grew up in the subcontinent and now live in the West, so I do exactly the same thing-in reverse!
An interesting read whether you are headed to the East or, like me, are a commuter dreaming of warmer climes!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
The first stories written bu Jeff Greenwald I had chance to read in the wonderful book Traveler's Tales - Hong Kong, where he happened to be one of the contributors. So when I saw the book written by Greenwald himself, I could not resist but test his writing again. If you are looking for the enlightments or truly literary achievement, do not waste your time. This book will not give you that. However, if you are looking into exploring in 200 pages or less adventures of California man in search of perfect Buddha statue in Nepal, then go for it. The book will give you another perspective of expatriates abroad who are trying to make ends meet, but at the same time are genuinely drawn to the mysticism of the Far East. Mr. Greenwald is not pretending to be the one who will bring Buddhism closer to Western world's. Rather, in his own way he brings us to HIS story of the way(s) of finding perfect Buddha statue. Light read, lots of fun. And you can always give this book to a friend for fun read after you are finished yourself...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. F. Rooney on September 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
I liked this book! I took the text for face value - what I read is what I got. I did not look beneath the skin for hidden meanings or innuendos. And, as such, I thought it was a wonderful, humorous read with insight from the experiences of an author who clearly cares about the country and the people. I liked the personal, open approach of the text, which is presented in an accessible writing style. Amongst my favorite parts were the descriptions of the life of the Buddha and of the Hindu gods, which were presented in a reader-friendly way. It seems to me that the reviews on Amazon are, for the most part, unfair. I didn't get the idea that Greenwald ever set out to define Buddhism; and I didn't sense an "arrogance" in his story. Rather, I took it as his journey in a Buddhist country whose culture and people captured and led him towards a quest for what he considered a "perfect" image of the Buddha that would always be with him, to either still or energize the mind. I thought it was a great thread to pull the text together. Surely anyone reading this book will connect with the author's commitment to conveying his experiences of Shopping for Buddhas.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 21, 2002
Format: Paperback
I bought this book while traveling through Thailand and undergoing my own quest for an acceptable Buddha (perfection was too high a standard). Yeah, the writer comes across as self-absorbed and arrogant, and he reminded me of fellow Westerners who had embarrassed me during my travels. However, this book was an entertaining read with situations that I could identify with. I needed an escape and some laughs after challenges encountered during travel in Asia, and this book gave those laughs to me. I wasn't expecting perfection from the writer, just entertainment.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Lulu Magoo VINE VOICE on April 26, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first learned of Jeff Greenwald from the book "A Sense of Place" which is a collection of interviews with authors best known for their travel/adventure writing.

Having been intrigued by the concept behind this book, I immediately checked Amazon to see how well it was received. I was quite surprised to find reviews that ran the spectrum from "Loved it" to "Hated it." I fall into the "Loved it" category.

Jeff's writing is very real, down to earth, funny and intelligent. He's not afraid to admit when he's made a cultural faux pas, and I think this makes for quite an entertaining read. Live and learn, right?

Other readers found the pursuit of the Buddha trite and materialistic, but I saw it as a search for much more. For perfection in one self, a sense of beginning, or one of closure. I have a feeling that this book ended up being a great deal more thought provoking than the author originally intended. The ending of this book actually moved me to tears.

I highly recommend this book, as well as "The Size of The World" by the same author.
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