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My favorite books are the ones that surprise me. It might be their unusual humor or grace, but typically it is the story and, more importantly, the people in those stories who reveal something special to me. It might be describing the taste of fresh lemon meringue pie in some nondescript diner, or an unexpected and subtle insight about how we choose to live our lives.
Unfortunately, I don’t come across books like this very often, but I thought I should share one here.
Breakfast with Buddha
Roland Merullo, my favorite author, wrote “Breakfast with Buddha” with that rare mix of story-telling, humor, and thoughtfulness. Reviewed as, “A laugh-out loud novel that’s both comical and wise … balancing irreverence with insight,” the story begins as Otto Ringling, a confirmed skeptic, is tricked by his sister to take her guru along with him on a trip to their childhood home.
Six days on the road with an enigmatic holy man who answers every question with a riddle is not what Otto had planned. But in an effort to westernize his passenger – and to 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 in North Dakota, Otto is given a remarkable opportunity to see his world – and more important, his life – through someone else’s eyes.
Partway into this journey, Otto reads a book his monk companion had written, and he pauses to read one passage several times. It’s not necessarily about “spiritual situations,” but it also made me stop to read it several times because I think it applies to many – too many – situations in our lives: