Cover Image: The Buddha and the Bee

The Buddha and the Bee

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Member Reviews

I loved everything about this book!!  I love to travel and what Cory Mortensen has done is something I've only dreamed about and now was able to live it through The Buddha and the Bee!  I loved his perseverance throughout the ride and enjoyed meeting all of the characters with him along the way!  Very delightful read!
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The adventure of Cory’s ride from Minneapolis to San Francisco reads much like his actual bike riding along the journey - many frustrations, disjointed, full of frustration...but when it’s all said and done something memorable. There is plenty of self-deprecating humor, which at times is quite funny but gets to be just too much after awhile. The last note from his father is probably the best and most touching passage in the book. Overall, this wasn’t a great read, but it was enough to keep me interested until the end.
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I enjoyed reading this for its grueling cycling adventures and trip notes. Kudos for mentions about ghost bikes, blue highways, cowboy boot tributes, and a truly cool encounter with a coyote. But I have to say, this persona the author chose to represent him as narrator pissed me off throughout the book. I admit that I giggled at a lot of his references, but I groaned at just as many. Plus, he disrespects just about every local he meets, either not bothering to listen to their advice or flat out denigrating them (though never to their faces). The first rule of being a gracious traveler is assume the locals have a rationale for doing (or pronouncing) things as they do, Righteous behavior isn't cool and it makes you look like as ass. I mean, maybe it's a little funny that the author refers to himself as "your hero" and then behaves more like a low-key villain.
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This book was entertaining and laugh-out-loud enjoyable. A perfect escape to travel beyond your living room or office. I enjoyed this adventure.
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This book gave me the refreshment I needed; to put it more precisely, it was a short vacation from everything that I was reading and living. While reading this memoir, I went through the myriads of experiences with the author and lived the lives and places I have no connections with. It triggered some suppressed desires that I'd buried deep down in my mind and compelled those emotions that were just too surreal.

This memoir is about the author Cory Mortensen's liberating adventure on his bicycle from Minnesota to California (approx. 2000 miles) and as basic as it may sound, it was much more than one can even think of. When I started this book, I had no idea how it would go or if it would come close to my most favorite book ever—Into The Wild by Jon Krakauer. It did come close to it and that's why I enjoyed and loved reading it. The only difference is that Author Cory Mortensen had well-planned intentions for the adventure, he kept his family and friends in contact, he did use money, and had no intention to abandon society. But I saw the cards changing in the end when the author decides a whole new fate for his life and quits his job after finishing his cross-country adventure on a bicycle. 

The most agitating parts of this book were whenever the author passed from rural towns and deserted roads, whenever he was alone on the road for miles and at the end of the day stayed in some low-key motel. It wasn't a picture-perfect ride as it may sound because he had his down-times as well; tires getting punctured and flat in the middle of nowhere, many troublesome ascends, demotivating loneliness, heat, and wind—oh, did I mention aliens? Lol— all these things were the major obstacles in his journey. I remember when even I doubted the author's intentions and motivation when on just the third day of his journey, he decided to call it to quit and go home. He couldn't bear that loneliness and isolation, his all excitement seemed pointless, but the thought of going back to the ordinary life and job he had was something that held him and made him even more determined to finish what he'd started.

'The Budhha and The Bee' is a well structured and perfectly paced memoir and the author's unctuous narration makes it even more invigorating. He used humor in the most unusual situations and that made the reading experience even more entertaining. But hey! Was the intention of this book was to entertain? Of course not! Along the way he realized, learned, and shared some insights about life. He explored and lived those moments that many can only hope. His description of all the places he visited and came across provided a vivid imagination where I—as a reader— lived and experienced the same. 

His struggles with ascending roads and then the fun with the descending ride, all the beautiful landscapes of Nebraska and Nevada, Mountains and breeze, the countryside of Colorado, his days on road and nights in camps, kind people and car lifts, heat and cold, longing for companionship to embracing solitude, deserted roads and crowded bars, from that ephemeral company of coyote to the bikers brothers in Reno, Nevada, from his first day's uncertainty to the last day's fulfillment—I lived it all. From all those cafes, restaurants, bars, and hotels to each and every person he crossed the paths with—I experienced it all. 

If it wasn't the author's brilliant way of putting things in the right order and placing mandatory details in necessary places,  then this book may not have the impact it had on me. For some reason, I could relate to the author's desires and perspectives about life. This book has a very sentimental and courageous end. The Author's decision to resign from the job and continuing life on his terms was commendable and does take a lot of strength, and I appreciate that he could do that. 

I have never been to America but because of this book, I experienced all those rural roads, deserted highways, villages, ghost towns, and the countryside. I felt various emotions while reading it; I felt frustrated every time the tires went flat and I felt happy whenever the author covered some distance and called it a day with some beers in some motel room. I felt goosebumps every time he started his new day's journey, I felt anxious whenever he passed through the miles-long deserted roads and I felt inspired every time he kept going even if he had many reasons to take breaks. 

The author and his bee (bicycle) were my comrades from the last two weeks and after this overwhelming reading experience, I am still longing to read more. Hopefully, the author is already working on his other book and that's very exciting because I am curious to know what he did after this adventure and resigning from his job. I hope I will get the paperback or hardcover of this book very soon, I want to put it in my special collection of books with 'Into The Wild". I will highly recommend this book for the author's mesmerizing narration and thrilling adventure. It's flawless and full of experiences that one should experience once in a lifetime. 

To the author Cory Mortensen: Thanks for writing this book and putting so many efforts to make it full of life. I will always be grateful for this reading experience and more power to you.
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I really enjoyed this book! Cory Mortenson writes about his journey biking from Minnesota to California. I "oh, no'ed" everytime a car pulled. And, I had a mini-anxiety response everytime he blew out a tyre! What really caught my attention were the historical aspects of the towns he went through. Interesting, engaging, entertaining! Well written and witty.
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I was in just the right mood to read a book like this.   Different from my usual fiction, mysteries, etc, The Buddha and the Bee is the story of Cory Mortensen, who decides to make his way by bicycle from Minnesota to California with almost no supplies, no helmet, and practically no plan. Along the way, he meets his share of characters, eats a ton of Subway Italian sandwiches and Chinese food, stays in some of the country's sleaziest motels and takes in the sights in every town he visits - like the giant stuffed polar bear  - The White King in Elko, Nevada.   His bike breaks down multiple times, but he finally makes it to California.   

Cory Mortensen is a true free spirit.  I have never done anything like he's done and I am envious  I hope he continues to have adventures and write about them!  This book was a great change of pace for me from my normal reads and I enjoyed it immensely.
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Perfect book for an escape. Mortensen’s story of his trip from Minnesota to California is engaging. It’s fun to see how he progressed from enthusiastic to almost quitting to not wanting it to end. Makes me want to do a similar ride, but also also glad that I haven’t!
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I love travel memoirs and I loved The Buddha and the Bee. In 2001 man-about-town (he really is well traveled) Cory Mortenson left his home in Minnesota and started his adventure cycling to California. I am from the Midwest so I am very familiar with the route he took. It starts off with Cory wanting to get off the road-questioning why he took this plan on and doubting himself. But he stays the course and with his dry humor he leads us (his pack) along. I like that he's a man who doesn't fear to be alone or talk much...so many memoirs are cutsy dialogue w/various characters one meets on the road. Cory likes beer, cycling and testing the limits. There is history about each town he passes through but not in a Paul Theroux way. A refreshing memoir. Thanks Netgalley.
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Thoroughly enjoyed reading this over a couple of evenings this week.
Well written, some humour and let's you go to place we'll away from Covid. 

Recommended and not just for cyclists.
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What can go wrong or right in a short bike ride? A lot. What can go wrong or right on a 2,000 mile cross country trek? Also a lot.

As a cyclist myself and lover of random trivia bits, I enjoyed watching Mortensen’s quick evolution from novice to sunburnt chaffed road veteran.  I’ve read quite a few journals of similar journeys and this one is easily one of the most humorous; plus Mortensen is a bit of a maths nerd, computing for fun when times are rough.

The journey did change our “hero” but the self revelations are gentle, tinged with humor and it doesn't feel like they are laid on too thick. Especially in a time of Covid it was a welcome distraction to spend a few evenings reading of Mortensen’s adventure and I wouldn’t mind reading about more - where did our intrepid hero go next?
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Thank you to NetGalley for a copy of this book.. Enjoyed the book very much.. I did recommend it to my son who is also a cyclist.
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In August of 2001, Cory Mortensen decided to take a two month leave of absence from work and ride his bike across the United States from Chaska, Minnesota to Truckee, California; no set schedule or reservations set up along the way; very little gear (no spare socks, cell phone, or even a helmet); just a wedding to get to eventually, and what he figured was plenty of time to test himself on the open road. Naturally, as these things go, Mortensen faced unexpected obstacles — from mechanical failures to hostile small town inhabitants to mental stress — but he overcame everything and better liked the person he was by the end of his trip. It’s not explained why it took him nearly twenty years to make The Buddha and the Bee out of his adventure (or even where the title comes from), but now that it’s out...it’s just okay. The writing is fine — generally the tone is sarcastic and self-deprecating — and not terribly introspective; this is a light and breezy read about a mentally and physically tough challenge; interesting if not exactly inspirational.
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Oh, this was so much more than I expected!  

This book was the perfect escape from pandemic isolation and a billion Zoom meetings.  Cory Mortensen's account of his spur-of-the-moment bike ride from Minnesota to California in 2001 made me feel like I was outside in the sunshine, heading for the next little town.  Whether you bike, run, walk, or drive, this book captures the lure of movement - to crest the next hill, to press on until dark, to chase that vanishing point on the horizon. 

There's a lot about biking in this book (and about not biking, as tire-fixing and beer-drinking are also persistent themes), but the book is also a genial travelogue about the states the author crossed.  Tidbits about history and landmarks pop up here and there, as though the author is whizzing by them.  It's disconcerting at first, especially as the voice tends to shift from raconteur to instructor, but by the middle of the book, I found I was looking forward to it.  

I really enjoyed the author's accounts of what he saw and experienced on the trip, from the acres of terrifying corn, to the cowboy boots on posts, to the heartbreaking days after 9/11, to the grandeur of the Rockies, to all the scuzzy motels he stayed in, to the aliens he may or may not have encountered.  (Yep.  Aliens.  You try riding/driving through the Salt Flats at night.)  He's particularly lyrical about the scuzzy motels, which have magnificent names and similarities in  décor:  chained TV, plastic-wrapped cups, mold lurking somewhere in the shower.   

Great book.  Once I read the footnote, even the pretentious spelling of "tire" made me laugh.

Many thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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It's difficult to describe the experience of reading Cory Mortensen's "The Buddha and the Bee: Biking Through America's Forgotten Roadways on a Journey of Discovery," a never less than engaging collection of roadside musings and nostalgic factoids that meanders nearly as much as did Mortensen himself during his 2001 solo bicycle trip from Chaska, Minnesota to Truckee, California.

The truth is that "The Buddha and the Bee" is more an entertaining read than an inspiring one, Mortensen's charismatic personality shining through his written pages as we join him on a journey that would have likely been ill-advised by just about anyone with a lick of common sense.

Aren't those the best kind?

I couldn't help but reflect upon my own life while reading "The Buddha and the Bee," a life that has been certainly less far-reaching but a life that has included my own weird journey when in 1989 I embarked on a 41-day, 1086-mile wheelchair ride around the border of Indiana with a handful of zigzags included just for fun. It was the first of what would become a 30-year journey in social justice for me, while Mortensen's journey led to a detoured life and a semi-impulsive but lifelong commitment to living life on his own terms.

At times, "The Buddha and the Bee" feels like what would happen if Jeff Spicoli, Sean Penn's iconic anti-hero from "Fast Times at Ridgemont High," had taken up biking and set his sights on San Francisco.

Dude.

"The Buddha and the Bee" sort of turns the idea of the inspirational memoir upside down, a few obscenities here and there joined at the hip by an occasional joint and near daily rural roadside Chinese dinners and overnight stays in forgotten America's roadside motels.

It is true that the journey that unfolds here was incredibly impulsive and lacking in what most people would consider common sense or adequate preparation, though it's worth noting that Mortensen was no stranger to bicycling and he had adequate personal funding to allow for overnight motel stays when available and ample restaurant meals and bicycle repairs for which he'd been woefully unprepared. Granted an extended leave of absence from his employer with certainty of employment if he so chooses, it's zero surprise when the experience of riding across a good majority of America changes the directionless young man and sends him off toward a more meaningful life.

The truth is that you root for Mortensen throughout "The Buddha and the Bee," though you really don't get to know him all that well. In a certain way, this is actually rather refreshing as "The Buddha and the Bee" is devoid of the usual self-congratulatory narcissism that often accompanies this type of book. Mortensen has an almost dry humor throughout "The Buddha and the Bee," from snarky memories of personal encounters to not always so gentle opinions about these roadside destinations where sometimes the stranger isn't exactly always welcome.

For the most part, "The Buddha and the Bee" is quietly endearing. Mortensen is that rare soul who embarks on a weird journey and learns from it in tangible ways that impact his life. While the book itself doesn't expand upon Mortensen's life beyond this journey, a quick web browse reveals that Mortensen has ridden his bicycle over a million miles throughout his lifetime while traveling to over 55 countries and completing marathons on five continents. With an entrepreneurial spirit and a thirst for adventure, it's clear that Mortensen has lived a life far beyond that for which he was destined prior to this 2001 trip including being in rural America when the 9/11 attacks occurred.

"The Buddha and the Bee," which was released just this week and is Amazon's #1 new release in Sports Travel," is more likely to appeal to the adventurous spirit than those seeking another pure-hearted inspirational tale. It's an honest sports travel memoir, Mortensen unreservedly sharing his impulsive behaviors, equipment breakdowns, unusual encounters, body odor, and aliens.

Of course, there are aliens.

You might be inspired anyway, but for the most part "The Buddha and the Bee" will engage you and entertain you and cause you to reflect on your own life journey and, just perhaps, your bucket list of life experiences and personal/professional goals. You can't help but appreciate Mortensen's sharing of a wide variety of small-town factoids and historical reflections even when they occasionally seem to replace what would have been greater character depth and a greater connection with the man who serves as our guide in a weird and wonderful way.

With ordinary insights and a strong sense of gratitude, Mortensen has created a not so inspirational memoir filled with humor, insight, honest reflections, and the knowledge that sometimes it's those unplanned moments of uncommon courage that define us for the rest of our lives.

"The Buddha and the Bee: Biking Through America's Forgotten Roadways on a Journey of Discovery" is available now and most certainly worth your time.
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Life-Changing Journey... but this is NOT a typical blah-blah-blah memoir

Planning is for sissies. A solo bike ride across the country will be filled with sunshine, lollipops, rainbows, and 80 degree temps every day, right? Not so much. The Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, an alkaline desert, and the Sierra Nevadas lay miles and days ahead. Disappointment with unrealized potential, and the thirst for what’s next drew farther away in the rotating wide-angle shockproof convex rear-view mirror.

I will ride my bike down a never-ending ribbon of asphalt wearing a backpack.

Cory Mortensen began his bike ride across the United States from Chaska, Minnesota, to Truckee, California, without a route, a timeline, or proper equipment. Along the way, he gained more than technical skills required for a ride that would test every fiber of his physical being and mental toughness. Ride along as he meets “unusual” characters, dangerous animals, and sweet little old ladies with a serious vendetta for strangers in their town.

Humor ■ Insight ■ Adventure ■ Gratitude ■ Peace

From long stretches of road ending in a vanishing point at the distant horizon, to stunning vistas, terrifying close calls, grueling conditions, failed equipment, and joyous milestones he stayed the course and gained an appreciation for the beauty of the land, the genius of engineering and marvel of nature.
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