So this is a book I had never heard of, until I needed a book about a road trip for the 2016 popsugar reading challenge. I looked it up on their Goodreads page and people were repeatedly suggesting Breakfast With Buddha. It sounded more interesting than anything else I had read about so I took it out from my library and there you have it. So the description for this book is super quick and simple. It’s about a man named Otto who has to drive from New York City to North Dakota to deal with his parents’ estate after they passed away. When his sister bails on him for the ride, she convinces him to take along her guru: a Skovordinian monk. In a nut shell the book is about Otto and the monk discussing everything about life as they drive across country.
O.K. So now you probably want to hear my thoughts on this unique novel, or maybe you don’t. But now that I’ve got you here I’m going for it. First of all let’s start off with the fact that I don’t give out five stars lightly and I think this one has earned it. This book was awesome. I was expecting it to be slow and probably boring but I loved it. There isn’t a whole lot of plot in the book to be honest, and no action whatsoever. It’s a very character driven book, but it works for me. I have never read a character driven book that I was able to get into. With this one, I was hooked pretty early on. I fell in love with the character Volya Rinpoche, the monk. He is so calm and understanding, with great metaphors. He simplifies everything down, even the most complicated topics, to be able to describe what he believes in and why. Otto was a very real character, probably because he reminded me of myself a lot of the time. He got frustrated easily, and was very skeptical of this man being the real deal. Which is exactly the way I would have been in the same situation. With that being said he was completely open to trying it the monks’ way and they got along quite well. My favourite part of the book is that Rinpoche doesn’t back down; he loves having honest conversations on beliefs.
There is a lot in the book about religion and beliefs. That shouldn’t be to much of surprise since one of the main characters is a monk. I personally am not religious but I found this to be extremely well done and very interesting. The book didn’t go into great detail on all religions or even just one for that matter. The spiritual part of the book was more about Rinpoche’s belief, which isn’t really a religion: he has strong beliefs but they are more of a mixture of all the religions together. He does a great job at bringing it back to the fact that it doesn’t matter what denomination you are. In the end, they all want the same thing: for you to be a good person and live a good life. Before you get too worried they are beating you over the head with this simple fact; it’s worked into the plot. Rinpoche has a lot of very open conversations with Otto and that’s how it’s mostly conveyed.
There is a lot of growth for Otto during a very hard time in his life. It seemed like it was just what he needed. He went into this trip dreading being stuck with someone so different and he came out a different person: a better person. I loved the fact that he acknowledged the fact that Rinpoche changed his views slightly, and that he appreciated it. I hate it when a character changes and has no idea it was because of this person that annoyed them. They just go on thinking they have always been this good. Otto gives credit where credit is due. There is no way he would have ever been as open to the monks’ way of life if he wasn’t forced to spend days in a confined space together. His experience changed the way he sees life and the best part was: it changed his relationship with his sister. He sees her as less of a nut job now. It was great to see someone become enlightened by someone who lives a very different life and to see them both benefit from the relationship.
As you can see from my raving, I love this book. I think it is easy to see that I would recommend this book to pretty much everyone. No matter what beliefs you may have I think there is something to be taken from it. It makes you want to be calmer and a better person reading it. This is the first novel I have read by this author and I will most definitely be reading some more.
Have you read anything similar? Or would you recommend something for me based on this review? Let me know your thoughts.