Title: Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth
Author: Lisa Napoli
Publication Date: February 8, 2011
Hardcover: 304 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction, Travel, Memoir
From the Publisher:
Lisa Napoli was in the grip of a crisis, dissatisfied with her life and her work as a radio journalist. When a chance encounter with a handsome stranger presented her with an opportunity to move halfway around the world, Lisa left behind cosmopolitan Los Angeles for a new adventure in the ancient Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan—said to be one of the happiest places on earth.
Long isolated from industrialization and just beginning to open its doors to the modern world, Bhutan is a deeply spiritual place, devoted to environmental conservation and committed to the happiness of its people—in fact, Bhutan measures its success in Gross National Happiness rather than in GNP. In a country without a single traffic light, its citizens are believed to be among the most content in the world. To Lisa, it seemed to be a place that offered the opposite of her fast-paced life in the United States, where the noisy din of sound-bite news and cell phones dominate our days, and meaningful conversation is a rare commodity; where everyone is plugged in digitally, yet rarely connects with the people around them.
Thousands of miles away from everything and everyone she knows, Lisa creates a new community for herself. As she helps to start Bhutan’s first youth-oriented radio station, Kuzoo FM, she must come to terms with her conflicting feelings about the impact of the medium on a country that had been shielded from its effects. Immersing herself in Bhutan’s rapidly changing culture, Lisa realizes that her own perspective on life is changing as well—and that she is discovering the sense of purpose and joy that she has been yearning for.
In this smart, heartfelt, and beautifully written book, sure to please fans of transporting travel narratives and personal memoirs alike, Lisa Napoli discovers that the world is a beautiful and complicated place—and comes to appreciate her life for the adventure it is.
Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli is a memoir and a travelogue. At forty years old, Napoli does not feel content, and while she lives a lovely life, she feels as though something is missing and is then given the chance to travel to Bhutan to start up the first ever-commercial radio station in Bhutan, Kuzoo F.M. Through Napoli’s eyes and numerous trips to Bhutan, the reader learns about a country and culture, which is not often spoken about. I am not exactly certain what I was expecting from Radio Shangri-La, but I was not expecting what I read. However, I did enjoy learning how Napoli viewed Bhutan, the Bhutanese, the culture and her descriptions of how Bhutan was slowly progressing as a country. For me, I studied foreign countries extensively and I did not learn a whole lot, yet it was a quick read, as though Napoli was sitting with me sharing her travel experiences. For those who are unaware of Bhutan or know little about the country and culture, Radio Shangri-La is a gentle guide into a foreign country. Memoirs are often tricky to review as they are clearly from the viewpoint of the author. I do not know if Napoli’s mid-life crisis was averted or overcome from her experience, but I imagine she did grow and evolve from her experiences. I was far more interested in reading how an insider would view the political changes of a rather isolated country, and I was left wanting, yet again, in all fairness to Napoli, she wrote a memoir, not a political science book, and Napoli does offer up a bibliography of reference books, of which I am quite interested in reading. My main concern is that on my ARC copy and on the publisher’s site, this book is listed under travel. Radio Shangri-La is a wonderful memoir, but lacks the qualities one would look for in a travel book, but this may be changed in the final printed copy. While I am glad I read Radio Shangri-La, it is not a book I would read again. Readers who enjoy memoirs and would like to know more about the Bhutanese people, their culture, and Bhutan may enjoy Radio Shangri-La, and for those who are looking for a travel book about Bhutan should look elsewhere.
LISA NAPOLI is a journalist whose last staff job was on the public radio show Marketplace. An early chronicler of the dawn of the World Wide Web as a columnist at the New York Times CyberTimes, she has also been the Internet correspondent at MSNBC. She began her career at CNN, worked in local news in North Carolina, and has directed several documentaries about Southern culture.
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I received a complimentary copy of Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.