Book Review: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Buddha (Bodhipaksa)

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I received an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.


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Ragdoll Rating: 4/5 Buttons

Recommended For: Buddhists, people who like and share ‘motivational’ quotes, people who get annoyed at people who share ‘motivational’ quotes.

About the Book

This book is a collection of 50 ‘Fake Buddha Quotes’ – quotes that are, for whatever reason, wrongly attributed to the historical Buddha. Bodhipaksa presents each quotation as it commonly appears, then provides, where available, an explanation of where the quote may have originated and how it could have been altered or mistaken. Then he provides an scriptural account of what the Buddha actually said on that topic.

What I thought

I didn’t know what to expect going in to this book. As a practicing (but fairly new) Buddhist, I find it really annoying that many of the things that get attributed to the Buddha are incorrect, and sometimes go against what they Buddha was teaching! So I understand the purpose of the book, I just didn’t expect it to be anything special – the words ‘Buzzfeed fodder’ or equivalent jumped out at me.

As it turns out, that assumption was way off. This book is well researched, very informative and often very funny. Each quote is analysed carefully, assessing it’s accuracy, merits and origins. The inclusion of scriptural examples was what made this book so good. It would have been easier for Bodhipaksa to have just found the origins and, declared ‘this quote started with X’, but instead this book offered a really good teaching moment for every mistake.

I also liked the inclusion of the last section, of 25 quotable things Buddha actually said. It was a nice touch to include something people can actually share and be assured of its accuracy.

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed this book – I read it all in one sitting, which I only usually do for books I’m enjoying. This is definitely one of those books that could provide a jumping-off point for anyone looking into Buddhism, as well as being an intriguing coffee table book.

NOTE: I read the e-book version of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Buddha” and it was terribly formatted. There were 3 sections that started in the middle of a sentence, and random notes dotted around (despite being a section at the back for notes and references). My assumption is that in the book these sections are in some sort of separated text box, which the kindle does not display, or it could be just my copy went wrong. Or it could be very badly formatted. Either way, I would recommend getting a physical copy of this book rather than the e-book version. 

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Please Note: I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions contained within are my own and have not been influenced by any external entity!

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