Radio Shangri-La: Book summary and reviews of Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli

Radio Shangri-La

What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth

By Lisa Napoli

Radio Shangri-La
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  • Published in USA  Feb 2011,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Napoli's adventures at home and abroad, in nature and career and spirit, will delight readers." - Publishers Weekly

"A refreshingly uplifting book." - Kirkus Reviews

"Napoli's fluid, elegant, and vivid prose draws readers into this special geographical place and illustrates the value of soul searching." - Library Journal

"In a lot of ways, Lisa Napoli’s Radio Shangri-La reminded me of Deborah Rodriguez's 2007 bestselling Kabul Beauty School. Only better, if for no other reason than the writing here is just so sharp and terrific.

"Radio Shangri-La is a beautiful, touching and deeply compelling memoir by a well-known public radio reporter who arrived in the tranquil kingdom of Bhutan to help establish the nation's first radio station and, as important, to further her own mid-life assessment of a life that felt full of missteps.  The book is delightful reading--honest, moving and quietly spiritual as it offers both an intimate portrait of a country only halfway to modernity and a soul in quest of meaning." - Scott Turow, author of Innocent

"Radio Shangri-La grabs you by the heart and takes you on a winding dual journey - into the self and into a fairy tale kingdom known for measuring happiness as its gross national product. Charming, illuminating, and often ironic, this memoir is a continuous discovery of myths and realities in finding deeper personal meaning." - Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club and Saving Fish from Drowning

"Radio Shangri-La  has shades of Pico Iyer and Bruce Chatwin and a similar genius for parachuting the reader into a strange land and culture.  Bhutan has long fascinated me and Radio Shangri-La is the perfect vehicle to get there." – Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone.

The information about Radio Shangri-La shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Louise J
Interesting Story!
I found the book to be extremely interesting as very, very little is known about this closed and secluded country. However, I felt there was something lacking, perhaps more information would have been helpful. I would still definitely recommend this book to others who have penchant to learn about new places that are literally unheard of or where very little is known about the country and its people.

Rated 2 of 5 of 5 by C H. (Wauwatosa, WI)
Radio Shangri-La
When I had the chance to get this book as an Advanced Reader's Copy, I couldn't wait for it to come. As the author described of herself, I have been feeling much the same "itch" to go somewhere very different and have my eyes opened to what life could really be. This book was to describe her experience and this was the book for me! I found that her writing style was flat. It didn't describe Bhutan with the excitement that made me able to picture it and want to go there. I found the same in the way she wrote about her relationships with people, both those she became close to and those she met casually. It could be I was wanting too much, but I would not recommend this book and have read several other books of this kind that I keep forefront and dying to visit those places.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Marianne R. (shepherdsville, ky)
I Wanted More
I enjoyed this book up until Lisa got back to the US after her first trip to Bhutan. Then it fell flat. In the end, her story is interesting and I learned about the happiest kingdom on earth, but I have to rate it average.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Julie M. (Bloomington, MN)
No happiness found...
I was prepared to love this book, but it turned out to a bit of a disappointment. I had to force myself to keep reading. If you really want to read a fascinating book on happiness and places where people are the happiest, try The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner instead.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Lynne B. (S. Lake Tahoe, CA)
Bhutan, the Happiest Place on Earth?
Author Lisa Napoli accepts an opportunity to travel to Bhutan, a little known third world country tucked into the Himalayas between India and China. One of the more unusual aspects of this country's governing philosophy is the notion of GNH or Gross National Happiness which means that quality of life is to take precedence over any attempt at financial gain. The most appealing part of this book was the exposure to the lifestyle, dreams and accomplishments of the citizens of this country which has attempted to remain isolated from the damaging influences of the Western world, especially internet and media control. However, over the course of several years covered in the story we come to learn that even tiny Bhutan is undergoing modernization due to the unavoidable exposure to television, internet and media attention. Another aspect of the story which is very unique is the experience of the Bhutanese when they come to the United States and discover unimaginable wealth and material goods, which results in both positive and negative effects. I found this book to be a pleasurable read which provides the reader with a chance to become immersed in the life and culture of real Bhutanese citizens and experience the wonder of an innocent people in a place that can truly be called the last Shangri-La.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Christine A. (Colorado Springs, CO)
Radio Shangri-La
I rated the book average because I liked elements of the book. But, I would have liked to know more about Napoli's life in Bhutan. Not much was written about what she specifically did for the radio station and rather late in the book she mentioned friends she had made who were ex-pats but she hadn't mentioned them previously.

...18 more reader reviews

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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. More about the book including photos from Bhutan can be found at www.LisaNapoli.com

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