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.
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.
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.
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.
Mary H. (Okemos, MI)
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.
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.
Darlene M. (Rancho Mirage, CA)
I loved reading this book. My husband and I visited Bhutan 20 years ago and were fascinated by the country. This book gives you a glimpse of how modern technology such as television, radio and outside influences are changing the country. You decide if it has been positive or negative!!!!