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Comment: clean pages BUT some sort of scuff p59 at edge; bumped corners;
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Breakfast with Buddha Paperback – August 26, 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 743 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Merullo, author of the Revere Beach series and Golfing with God, delivers a comic but winningly spiritual road-trip novel. Otto Ringling is a food-book editor and a happily married father of two living in a tony New York suburb. After Otto's North Dakota parents are killed in a car crash, he plans to drive his ebulliently New Age sister, Cecilia, back home to sell the family farm. But when Otto arrives to pick up Cecilia in Paterson, N.J. (where she does tarot readings and past-life regressions), she declares her intention to give her half of the farm to her guru, Volvo Rinpoche, who will set up a retreat there. Cecilia asks Otto to take Rinpoche to North Dakota instead; after a fit of skeptical rage in which he rails internally against his sister's gullibility, he accepts, and the novel is off and running. Merullo takes the reader through the small towns and byways of Midwestern America, which look unexpectedly alluring through Rinpoche's eyes. Well-fed Western secularist Otto is only half-aware that his life might need fixing, and his slow discovery of Rinpoche's nature, and his own, make for a satisfying read. A set piece of Otto's chaotic first meditation session is notably hilarious, and the whole book is breezy and affecting. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

With Breakfast with Buddha, Roland Merullo, the author of seven books, including the critically acclaimed Revere Beach Trilogy and A Little Love Story (HHHH Selection Jan/Feb 2006), takes on one of the oldest and most popular literary genres—the road novel. Authors from Chaucer to Twain to Kerouac have already written journey-focused masterpieces, and some critics pointed out that Merullo isn’t necessarily doing anything new in this novel. However, as the Washington Post declares, "Yes, it’s all formulaic, but it’s such a sweet formula!" Despite the presence of a few mechanical scenes and characters, reviewers appreciated Merullo’s engaging writing style and his light and joyous treatment of what could have been very heavy-handed spiritual material.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; Reprint edition (August 26, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565126165
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565126169
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (743 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,001 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Otto Ringling is your typical American: upper middle class, happily married, one boy, one girl, one decent-paying job. House, picket fence, nine yards of the "whole" variety. But Otto's in store for an atypical ride when his "New Age" sister, Cecilia, asks that he allow a guru named Rinpoche to ride shotgun with him from Jersey to North Dakota.

The premise is a bit far-out, forcing Merullo to negotiate an opening that attempts to make it all feasible. This takes time and doesn't entirely succeed, but eventually we settle in for this "road novel" with the grumpy Doubting Otto (Thomas was busy) behind the wheel and the beatific, beaming Volya Rinpoche (the Dalai Lama was busy) riding shotgun.

On the Road (sorry, Jack), we're treated to all manner of fun and games, both physical and verbal. The physical comes compliments of Rinpoche's naivete in all things American. The verbal comes in the form of cynical Otto trying to trip Mr. Mystical up (he fails, of course, every time).

If you like philosophy or religion, if you are middle-aged and have given any thought to that Mortality fellow creeping up behind you, or if you have ever asked the clichéd question, "What's the meaning of life, anyway?" then this is a book for you. Rinpoche claims he isn't Buddhist, and his words show how well-versed Merullo is in many religions, not just Buddhism, but nevertheless, our charming man of wisdom, swathed in maroon robe, comes off in a Zen kind of way. Thus, readers with an interest in the East will be treated to an easy, story-based introduction to Buddhism (which goes down much easier than many of the introductory books you could find in the Eastern religions section of your bookstores).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book after reading a review emailed to me. I am so very happy that I did! Although Buddha is in the title, the book is only obliquely about Buddhism...the secondary character happens to wear a robe and is a guru...this story is about a physical and spiritual journey frought with humor, reflection, good food and pathos. Even casual characters are painted wonderfully by this author, but you are really along to share Otto's journey of self-discovery and I believe every reader will learn much about themselves as they travel through it.

I have a long list of friends and family members waiting to read it and look forward to discussions with them about their take on Otto and Rinpoche.
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Format: Hardcover
What a wonderful way to start the day! This was a quiet thoughtful book. It didn't smack you in the face with life-changing ideas. It seemed to be more of an osmosis-type experience. It was a simple story about a man changing his mind with a little help from his traveling companion. And with that simple premise, the author encompassed so much of the human condition; so much of our commonality, our thoughts, dreams, hopes, questions about life. I closed the book often to contemplate something the holy man had said, to soak it in. I found myself to be so at peace that sometimes I drifted off to sleep with the book in my lap (an attempt at meditation).

The messages in this book will stay with me. I plan to do more reading along this line and it is because of this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I loved reading Breakfast with Buddha. It was an easy and fun read. The story flowed and the characters were interesting and likeable. I could not put it down and then parts of it continued to come back to me throughout the following days. I reread it and shared it with two friends who also loved it. I recommend this book to anyone even if you don't usually read straight novels. I am a mystery reader myself and I loved it.
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Format: Hardcover
Food book editor and ordinary suburbanite dad/husband Otto Ringling drives from New York to North Dakota with improbable passenger, Buddhist guru/yoga master Volya Rinpoche. Is this serious or another Bing & Bob "On the Road" movie to provide guffaws? In the end, it's neither.

The serious spiritual transformation of Ringling is shallow, rushed and predictable. By the very end, it feels phony. Diner conversations about the meaning of life are limpid and meatless: "What matters is how you treat people." "Live a good life. Help people. Meditate. Don't Hurt." And seven days later, a miracle: Otto is transformed.

The comedic aspect falls short, too. Two oddballs, picture Zippy the pinhead and Walter Matthau, leave the planet for seven days to travel in the mash potatoes and gravy of the mid-west. There are some lame scenes where the crimson robed monk is embarrassingly out-of-place (swimming in a Speedo at a Minnesota lake, mini-golfing in Wisconsin) and where Otto struggles in his spiritual awakening (tearing muscles in a yoga class). Amusing possibilities, but Merullo's humor is flat. Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" interplay with his friend Katz come to mind as far funnier.

In spots, Merullo is very ordinary and humdrum. An entire paragraph devoted to the motel décor in South Bend that depicts Notre Dame football? The observation that football, not Catholicism, is the religion at Notre Dame? C'mon. Cliché. Detailed descriptions of mid-west German restaurants down to the pictures of lederhosen on the walls? Yawn.

Merullo isn't too bad at describing meals. By the time, our boys hit dinner, like ever-famished Otto, we are ready to dive into the New York strip steak and roasted shallots.
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