Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, The Happiest Kingdom on Earth.
Like many memoirists these days, when Lisa Napoli experienced a mid-life crisis, she jumped at an opportunity to travel to a remote part of the world – in this case, Bhutan. My favorite parts of the book were her nuggets of information about this tiny Himalayan country: why the Bhutanese paint phalluses on their buildings, the extreme spiciness of the food, why the University of Texas at El Paso designs all their buildings in the Bhutanese style (minus the phalluses, I assume) and the country’s serious pursuit of Gross National Happiness instead of a Gross Domestic Product. As she says, Bhutan was "an ancient, once-secluded kingdom now transitioning at warp speed". A few years ago TV was finally allowed in the country and it has brought images of the US –via Baywatch and Sex and the City. Will young Bhutanese's Gross National Happiness change?
I was interested in this book because I lead an International Book Discussion at the library where I work and we had just read another book about Bhutan. This was a fun and enjoyable read about current events in Bhutan, and I will recommend it to others in our group who want an update about this country, and any other armchair travelers.
Rated of 5
by Prella M. (Lafayette, IN)
Lisa Napoli, on her own quest to find contentment and satisfaction with her life, travels to Bhutan to aid the national radio station. Her observations and insights on this delightful small Himalayan kingdom make interesting reading. For me, it was a trip down memory lane to remember a wonderful vacation I had there some years ago. I recommend this for all arm chair travelers who wish to know more about other parts of the world or prospective visitors.
Rated of 5
by Michael P. (San Marcos, CA)
One of the few books that had me nodding and smiling in agreement with the author as I read along. I was so "in sync" with the feelings and emotions Ms. Napoli used to describe her life at the mid-career point that I felt validated that I wasn't the only one who was experiencing the world the way I do. This sense of identification with an author happens very rarely for me so I really enjoyed the book. Highly recommended.
Rated of 5
by Betty T. (Warner Robins, Georgia)
Lisa Napoli's description of "the happiest place on earth" certainly made me happy. Ms. Napoli writes beautifully of her visits to Bhutan, a Himalayan kingdom that few are privileged to visit. Her descriptions reminded me of my visits to Thailand where I found the people and the land to be utterly charming. The king of Bhutan works hard to preserve the culture even as the Western world slowly invades the land. Once television was allowed into Bhutan there was no stopping this invasion. There is also the first-time visit to America from one of Ms. Napoli's new Bhutanese friends. We "see" America through Ngawang's eyes which is sometimes humorous and sometimes very revealing of our values.
Rated of 5
by Laurette A. (New York)
Visiting the "Happiest Place on Earth"
"Radio Shangri-La" is part travel guide, part historical narrative and part adventure story, and well worth reading. As a journalist, Lisa Napoli was long acquainted with the hustle and bustle of working in the media profession, but nothing had prepared her for life in Bhutan, and in "Radio Shangri-La" she shares her extraordinary experiences with the readers. An unexpected encounter leads to her invitation to visit the tiny Himalayan nation dubbed "the happiest place on earth" and volunteer as a consultant at the start-up radio station Kuzoo FM; a station so young and new that by comparison, the average middle-class teenager in the U.S. had an iPod with a bigger hard drive than the one that engined Kuzoo. Bhutan is a poor nation, but as Ms. Napoli learns, it is overflowing with a sense of community and interconnectedness and it doesn't take her long to fall in love with the country and its people. In the course of her time there she comes to realize that the ingredients for happiness are simple: giving, loving, and contentment with where you are and who you are. I highly recommend you read this book and experience a little bit of Bhutan for yourself.
Rated of 5
by Kimberly D. (Mount Airy, MD)
More Of A Travel Memoir
I enjoy reading books that teach some kind of spiritual lesson, so I was eager to read this book to find out what the author learned by working at a radio station in a Buddhist nation. While I believe the epiphanies she arrived at were profound and relevant to my life, they didn't take up much of the book. Radio Shangri-la reads more like a travel memoir offering sights, sounds and a rich atmosphere of a place the reader will never experience in real life. I enjoyed it more for this reason.
Rated of 5
by Ann O. (Kansas City, MO)
The Happiest Place on Earth
After reading “Radio Shangri-La” by Lisa Napoli, one thing I can say is “I wish I could visit Bhutan!” But sadly I’m afraid that as Bhutan opens up to the world, it will cease to be the same unspoiled country that Napoli discovered.
As I read about Napoli’s adventures, I felt as though I were traveling with her, getting acquainted with her Bhutanese friends -- Ngawang, Pema, Pink and the others – and sharing their lives. Although I haven’t lived in another country, I traveled throughout the world for many years in my job for a non-profit organization. Reading this book brought back lovely memories of my experiences and the people who changed me by giving me a different perspective on my life and values.
However, partly because Napoli kept us at arms length, only teasing us about her problems and experience instead of bringing us into the heart and soul of her changed self and partly because I was more interested in Bhutan and its people, I didn’t enjoy Napoli’s personal musings as much as I did her descriptions of this beautiful country, these delightfully open-hearted people and their lives. All in all, though, it was an enthralling book.
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