• Breakfast with Buddha

  • A Novel
  • By: Roland Merullo
  • Narrated by: Sean Runnette
  • Length: 9 hrs and 34 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (4,085 ratings)

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Breakfast with Buddha

By: Roland Merullo
Narrated by: Sean Runnette
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Publisher's Summary

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. From a chocolate factory in Hershey to a bowling alley in South Bend, from a Cubs game at Wrigley field to his family farm near Bismarck, Otto is given the remarkable opportunity to see his world---and more important, his life---through someone else's eyes. Gradually, skepticism yields to amazement as he realizes that his companion might just be the real thing. In Roland Merullo's masterful hands, Otto tells his story with all the wonder, bemusement, and wry humor of a man who unwittingly finds what he's missing in the most unexpected place.

©2007 Roland Merullo (P)2011 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"The skillful Merullo, using the lightest of touches, slowly turns this low-key comedy into a moving story of spiritual awakening." ( Booklist)

What listeners say about Breakfast with Buddha

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    2,336
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

a thoughtful and often hilarious journey

This audiobook was a real pleasure--one I plan to come back to again and again. One reason is I love the performance as well as the voice of the reader, Sean Runette. I found it soothing yet compelling--you know, the type where you don't want to get out of your car and turn it off. Even at the end of the story, the characters rest with me--I have shared the better part of a week with Otto and his travelling companion and felt as if I was there with them.

The plot is simple enough---a middle aged man travelling from his home NY to his childhood home, to the heartland settle the estate of his parents who were killed suddenly. However there is a rhythm to the book, a progression across geography, cultures and the thoughts of Otto--flowing out at first in a rapid stream of consciousness that had a bent to describe, label and judge, and eventually coming to a place of peace, home and family---and something more-- an interior voyage, to find his own heart, breath and soul.

The entire concept of this book appealed to me, but I was afraid it would not be so digestible to my own middle aged husband. However, he really enjoyed this audio book as well. The rich imagery, descriptions of food so vivid that could almost taste it, and the humor....lots of humor appealed to my own Otto-like husband and will hopefully set him on a bit of a journey of his own.

As for me, it gave me a lot of food for thought. I adored the Rimposhe's perception of the "real" America, his kindness even when in adversity, in fact, I loved loved how "stress" was dealt with in this story. So much to love in this book.


90 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Weak Theory & Tedious Fictional Adventure

The only way this book would have worked for me would have been if it was nonfiction and based on an actual experience of a road trip and a Buddhist guru. Scratch that--the "contrast character" could have been any serious spiritual seeker--not even a "guru" as long as the character was real. If you have ever spent time with an actual spiritual guide you will find the portrayal of this "guru" one dimensional, juvenile and totally missing the mark. What's more--the characters, premise of the action and spiritual lessons presented lack depth and believability. All the talk of food, hotel rooms, and this road trip experience became self absorbed and as such quickly boring. To me, a humorless fantasy that misleads and disappoints. I really wish I hadn't wasted time on this book.

57 people found this helpful

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Not sure what it tried to accomplish

What disappointed you about Breakfast with Buddha?

I seldom write reviews but I felt with this book I need to write one... maybe I can save you from wasting hours of your life. I hope the author never reads this as I don't want to bring pain into his life, yet I do this to spare others from this book.

Let me start saying that I love buddhism and good stories. Yet, I kept waiting for this book to become something else than a guy complaining about everything. Unfortunately it never did. This book did not provide an interesting story nor any sort of buddhist insight beyond the utterly most pedestrian buddhism.

Save your time and money.

38 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A Must-Listen!

I will not lie. It started off rough. The first half an 10-15 minutes didn't grab me, but once they set on the road...WOW!!! I couldn't stop listening to it. Sean Runnette did an amazing job with Rinpoche. And Roland Merullo made me laugh, made me think, and came close to making me cry. I actually think I might have shed a tear. It was wonderful. If you are open enough to have come this far, go for it. You WILL enjoy it...after the first 10-15 minutes. c:

36 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A lighter introduction to spirituality.

Some people are not capable of taking in purely spiritual books yet, so this one has a lot of spiritual messages hidden in an actual story and story telling format, it's pretty good actually, but it needs to be recognized as a mostly spiritual book, not a mostly story book.

33 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Gentle musings of two men

As long as you're not looking for anything of depth this is a gentle way to spend an afternoon listening to the musings of 2 men trying to make sense of their lifes. I enjoyed it but was somewhat disappointed in its lack of substance.

Recommended

19 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Excellent

The conversations in this book are so well done it's as if you are a fly on the wall and hearing amazing honest back and forth between two very well made characters. Merullo does an excellent job teaching you Buddhism without actually teaching you Buddhism. It is a great story and has an amazing message. There I used excellent three times and BOOM amazing also three times in this review.

love you so very much,
Justin

18 people found this helpful

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New Insights with Every Listen

I've listened to this book several times - it's upbeat and very light, but every time I hear it I find just a little bit more insight on finding internal peace. I found the end a bit disappointing because it seemed a little far-fetched in a book that, although sweet and silly in places, always felt down to earth up to that point. I find it pairs nicely with "Opening the Door of Your Heart and Other Buddhist Tales of Happiness" by Ajahn Brahm, which I also bought on Audible.

15 people found this helpful

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Give it a try!

Would you listen to Breakfast with Buddha again? Why?

I'm not sure I'd listen again anytime soon simply because I have so many other audio books waiting, but it was a memorable story that will stick with me.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I loved Volya Rinpoche because he was such an interesting character. In fact, I knew there was a sequel ("Lunch With Buddha") and was disappointed to see that Audible doesn't have it.

Have you listened to any of Sean Runnette’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No, I haven't listened to other performances, but he was a good narrator.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I'm rarely able to listen to anything in one sitting, but I was intrigued once I got into the story and was eager to see where it went.

Any additional comments?

Just give it a try- it's not a heavy story, and there are spiritual elements, but it's not preachy.

14 people found this helpful

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This is why I love books . . . a special find here

People who don't read miss out. I almost missed out on this one due to the slow start of the story, but thankfully the book gained momentum after about half an hour or so, picking up more with each chapter.

Peals of laughter from deep in my chest, lumps in my throat, sometimes tears in my eyes that were left from laughter or some emotion that was brought forth from the writing.

In the movie Avatar, there is saying "I see you" and this is something that the author brought forth in this book again and again. We see humanity, with faults and gifts, angry, kind, childish, witty, mean, or compassionate. We see humanity through the various people described, observed, or met in this road trip, and especially in the unfolding of one character and the evolution of the other.

I started out knowing this was a fictional book, but midway couldn't help doing an internet search just to make sure. Because I hoped it was not. But, it is.

I hope the sequel will be put on Audible too. A book to bring forth the best in the reader as we are given moments to contemplate, be thoughtful, and maybe come out at the end of this book a little better for the experience.

The funny parts were really funny too. I love it when an author can make me laugh.

Excellent and perfect narration.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Trisha
  • 06-08-21

Thoughtful

There are some enjoyable and funny moments as well as some thought provoking ideas. Can sometimes feel a little ‘preachy’ and difficult to relate to the American way of living to the English way. The previous book I had read of Merullos was the road trip in Italy of the Pope and Dalai Lama which had European charm. For me this was missing this time. Still enjoyable however.

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  • Colleen Kelly
  • 10-31-17

highly recommended

So easy to listen to! Some really easy life steps for anyone. Child friendly. Highly recommend.

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  • Stuart
  • 03-19-15

Funny and heartwarming

Well told, entertaining and thought provoking. It might not change my life but it's good to be reminded every now and then of what it's really all about. And good to have it done in such a way.