Read Radio Shangri-La: What I Discovered on my Accidental Journey to the Happiest Kingdom on Earth by Lisa Napoli Online

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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. LLisa 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.From the Hardcover edition....

Title : Radio Shangri-La: What I Discovered on my Accidental Journey to the Happiest Kingdom on Earth
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ISBN : 9780307879912
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Radio Shangri-La: What I Discovered on my Accidental Journey to the Happiest Kingdom on Earth Reviews

  • Sandi
    2019-03-16 22:27

    I entered two giveaways for this book, one through FirstReads and one from the publisher's website. I won the FirstReads one and am hoping I don't end up with two. Isn't this title terrific?After reading the 20 page introduction and the first 3 chapters, I decided that this just isn't my kind of book. I got suckered in by a terrific title and great cover. The blurb sounded pretty good too. However, I'm just not that into memoirs about middle-aged women (of which I am one) who feel a need to zip off to some Third World country in search of self-realization. When the 40-something woman sound like she's 18, I find it pretty annoying. I really didn't have the patience for the text messages with the handsome stranger or the exclamation points when she describes arriving in Bhutan. When she started talking about how she was burned out on media, even though she was in Bhutan to help with their new radio station, I just gave up. I have too many books to read to spend my time on something that just isn't my taste.

  • Lisa Napoli
    2019-03-08 03:23

    I'm biased--I wrote it!

  • Stephanie
    2019-03-19 23:35

    I was wary of this one, but I'm not about to turn down a new book about Bhutan! Travel memoirs are tricky. The author must strike a balance between blandly listing what they experience in the country and making the journey all! about! them! Radio Shangri-La is hit or miss in this regard. Unlike other travel memoirs I've read, there is a wealth of information about the Bhutan of the past four years. Napoli's pretty straightforward about how little she knew about Bhutan before arriving, and how much of the material is filtered through her foreign mindset. Since I worked in college radio, I was fascinated about the comparisons between American and Bhutanese media. Less riveting were the sections on how this experience made the author feel about romance. I'm not really interested in books about people who see *~exotic locales*~ as backdrops for their own personal revelations. Epiphanies can happen while traveling, but pro-tip: always try to keep in mind that the country doesn't exist solely for your own personal enlightenment. Likewise, I could have done without the discussions of how Bhutan's modernization makes foreign visitors sad that "real" Bhutan is diminishing. The book does include perspectives on how the Bhutanese feel about this phenomenon, and that's a point in it's favor. Finally, this book could have used some judicious editing. Many repetitions of "spicy hot food" (yay redundancy?), of "tiny Himalayan kingdom no one had heard of," and of how Nepal and India are clogged with tourists. Also use of the word "civilized" in comparison with the United States. Criiiiinge. Cringe. Now after that complaining I will say this book is in my "recommend!" pile, partially due to novelty. And despite the things that aggravated me, Napoli's love for Bhutan is genuine, and quite fun to read about. The culture shock comes across, but so does her enthusiasm.

  • Read It Forward
    2019-03-17 23:33

    I'm so excited to tell all my friends who loved Eat, Pray, Love about Radio Shangri-la! It's fabulous. So smart and insightful, and what an education I got reading it. Lisa has a journalist's precision and a novelist's way with character. She grabs her life during a moment of crisis and shakes it out like a rug - she's such an inspiration to all of us who have wondered what we would do if given the opportunity to let go of the familiar, travel to a far-off place, and change our life.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-03-11 22:21

    (view spoiler)[Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)]

  • Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
    2019-03-05 01:12

    When I was first offered to review this book, I spent a while thinking about Bhutan, the country which is the focus of this travelogue memoir. The first sad thing I realized was that even in spite of having stayed for eight years in India, and having grown up on a steady diet of news regarding the southern Asian peninsula, Bhutan very rarely featured in any flash news from that region. Although I knew plenty about Bhutan, there was still a lot I didn't. That, as well as the real reason why news about Bhutan rarely invaded my living room couch, was revealed to me in this book.Radio Shangri-La is about Lisa Napoli's rediscovery of self through this remotely tucked away country in Asia. The book started out typically - a mid-life crisis bringing about a yearning for travel - especially to a little known country shrouded in mysticism and full of a promise of spiritual awakening. Warning flags immediately started popping up in my antenna - I haven't still forgotten the debacle that was Eat, Pray, Love. Luckily though, Lisa Napoli is very practical, and doesn't start off with dumping all her issues on us. In fact, it is many pages later that we really know what her troubles are. If not for the candid admission in the Preface that this is a story of her midlife crisis, I might have taken her for any one of us.By the end of the book, I've learned enough about Bhutan to wonder which planet this country was in. Bhutan's monarchy made a conscious decision not to be "corrupted" by outside influences. It's unbelievably hard to get into this country - $200 per head per day! (Even if that hefty pay serves to keep most potential tourists out of the country, and thus not turn Bhutan into yet another country that serves as the world's spiritual ground, it's not a policy I approve of.) Lisa vividly describes the many customs of the country and its geographic characteristics that I could picture the place so well in my mind's eye. Too often, I find travelogues focus on only some particular aspect of a country. Not Lisa's, though. She doesn't stick to exploring only one facet of her favorite place in the world - instead she easily delves into other political and commercial news, and shares them with us.I liked the second half of the book better than the first. The first half was way too descriptive for me, while the pacing of the second half a lot faster. The first half is really the exploration / rediscovery / change part of the author's life, and consistent with that, she shares a lot of what she learns during that phase with us. It has whole chapters that show what makes Bhutan the way it is -- resilient, incorruptible, paradisaical. I appreciated how well she made a case for it. But the second half, which is the acceptance / moving on part shows the reverse culture clash -- of her returning back to the states, completely transformed; and of one of her favorite people from Bhutan, who comes to visit her in LA.Moreover, the first half of the book focuses on the "good" side of Bhutan. I may not have visited Bhutan, but there's a lot (esp the customs) that sounds similar to me because of the way of life in India. The author's initial perspective about the good virtues of Bhutan left me asking - where's all the bad stuff and the bad people? Even in a country so isolated, where radio broadcasting is received with the same gusto as Apple's iPads are in the tech world, and where everyone absolutely loves the king, there should still be the odd person indulging in bad politics or something about this mystic place that feels too ancient. I was rewarded in the second half with all those answers. The author presents a well-written case of why some things had better not be done in Bhutan, and what some changes can mean to the country and the rest of the world.While I didn't agree with the author on everything, I loved that this was a very honestly written account of what she benefited from Bhutan. She didn't believe in superstitions or prayer rituals to make her life better but if that option was provided to her, she didn't denounce it or jump into it outright - instead she had a very practical response. That practical approach, her candidness and matter-of-fact tone in making any decisions are what make this memoir work very well.

  • Shomeret
    2019-02-26 23:08

    Although I did learn about Bhutan from this book, I thought that Lisa Napoli's memoir was not the best vehicle for doing so. It occurred to me that Napoli isn't very visual. One incident that stood out for me was when she was guessing the nationality of another visitor to Bhutan by his accent rather than his appearance. Another one was when she purchased a ring as a keepsake from Bhutan and didn't describe it at all. Her descriptions are general rather than specific. A travel writer should be more detailed.I also was disappointed in what she actually accomplished on her first trip. She was asked to help establish a radio station for the youth of Bhutan, but for the most part it didn't seem like she was needed. I also thought that she could have done more for the orphanage in Bhutan.On the other hand, I was impressed with Bhutan's limits on how much Western influence they were willing to accept. I also liked the workshop that Napoli took in Los Angeles in which you record three good things that happen to you. Being happy really is subjective. The re-framing technique that is used in that workshop is effective. If you remember the positive events in your life, you will feel more optimistic.

  • Kevin
    2019-03-01 04:36

    What a great book, I feel like I'd really like to visit a country where the measure of the country is how happy the people are instead of how much money or product they produce. Well written and plenty of interesting people. Written in 2011, I'd like to see the writer do a follow up as it seems the country was in transition when this book was written.

  • Karen Germain
    2019-02-25 02:29

    I have a soft spot for travel memoirs, especially ones that involve quirky, fish-out-of-water scenarios. Lisa Napoli's Radio Shangri-La documents the author's many trips to the country of Bhutan, the self- proclaimed "Happiest Kingdom on Earth."Bhutan is a country that is not accessible to the average tourist. It's difficult to obtain a visa and if you are allowed in, there is a heavy daily tax levied on visitors. Napoli managed to gain entry by way of her career in radio and arrived to help the nations first station geared towards Bhutanese youth, radio Kuzoo. Radio Kuzoo became a phenomenon in Bhutan, as it allowed the citizens in a very closed culture, access to the outside world, When Napoli was visiting in 2008, the country was beginning to let in the modern world and changes were happening rapidly. The book is as much about Bhutan's changes, as the changes in Napoli's own life. It is very reflective, especially with regards to Napoli's younger Bhutanese friends. Napoli is in her forties and reflecting on the decisions made in her youth and focused on how to spend the second half of her life. This is especially profound in the last half of the book, when Napoli befriends Ngawang, a young adult, who is trying to carve out her own future and in the process makes life altering decisions.The contemplative tone of the memoir, also has a lot to say on the idea of happiness and what it means of different people. Bhutan claims to be the "Happiest Kingdom on Earth" and when Napoli first arrives, she goes in with a rather, western, hippy notion that it's because the people are unplugged from modern distractions. Bhutan does eschew many of the trappings of modern society, but it's more deep rooted cultural priorities of family and belonging that give the citizens a sense of happiness. If Napoli write another book, ten or twenty years from now, it may give us a very different view of Bhutan, as the outside world becomes a bigger part of daily life. However, at this junction, it doesn't seem that any negative affects have invaded.The afterword could have easily been a jumping point for a new book. It was actually quite surprising. Napoli met with a family of Bhutan refuges in Tuscon, Arizona, who told their story about being forced out of the country twenty years ago. Bhutan made it very uncomfortable for their ethnic Nepalese citizens to live in the country, forcing them to flee Bhutan and find safe havens in other countries. This happened to approximately 1/6th of the population of Bhutan, many of whom, wish that they could return home despite being unwated in their home country. Reading about this, made the whole "Happiest Kingdom.." bit sound like even more P.R. nonsense than it did initially.This being said, the idea of whether or not it is the Happiest Kingdom is irrelevant. Napoli's book is about herself and the individuals that she encounters. It is a micro, not a macro view of her experience of the culture of Bhutan. In the end, the concept of Happiness is vast and impossible to define. It is an individual feeling and absurd to apply to an entire country.

  • John
    2019-02-27 06:21

    Really 2.5 - 3 stars, but rounded down for the author's overly-perky narration, which grew irritating.I found the story ultimately lacking, disappointing, underwhelming. We get a general description of Thimpu, though not much the country as a whole. Instead, the Bhutan-set chapters focus more on the personalities of the people she meets there, and impressions of the society; however, I didn't get an idea of what she actually did there as a volunteer. To be blunt, she came off as needy, and the Bhutanese came off as willing to take advantage of that, driven home when a Bhutanese colleague from the station comes to America for a visit.She returns a few times, seemingly having enough money to do so after losing her job and such. She remarks that her L. A. costs "half my take home pay", so I found her financial situation a bit ... confusing, shall we say. Others may get more out of this book than I did, but I can't really recommend it with any enthusiasm.

  • Rebekah O'Dell
    2019-03-14 22:08

    Imagine Eat, Pray, Love. Subtract the self-indulgent whining. Add work. Voila! An approximation of Lisa Napoli’s Radio Shangri-la.I don’t mean that in a reductive way, though. This is a very thoughtful, interesting travel memoir about a successful journalist in a mid-life crisis. After a chance meeting at a party, Lisa agrees to travel to Bhutan, a tiny country touted as the “happiest kingdom on Earth.” A radio vet, her skills are needed to help professionalize a Bhutan’s first radio station. So, she hops on a plane and joins the Kuzoo FM team as a consultant. Though there are plenty of moments of self reflection, this memoir is not nearly as introspective as other travel memoirs. In the midst of her own self-discovery, Napoli really reports on Bhutan — the people, the culture, the religion, the industry, the economy, the politics. In many ways, Radio Shangri-la reads very much like an extended NPR article. The most interesting twist in the tale, however, occurs when Napoli returns to the States and sponsors a visit from a young Bhutanese friend, Nangwang. Having never been outside of Bhutan, Nangwang’s view of America is fascinating, as are the maniuplative interpersonal tactics she employs to try to stay in the country. Napoli thus shows the reader Bhutan from both sides — as a foreigner in Bhutan and as a foreigner from Bhutan.At moments I felt the narrative lagged, particularly when Napoli went into details of Bhutan’s political elections. Overall, though, this was a very interesting book about a little-known part of the world and an inspiring story about the ways one person can make a difference in the world through their current vocation. Not everyone can open an orphanage or build a school. Napoli shows that impact — both personal and professional — can come in many forms. Avid NPR-listeners and lovers of the travel memoir alike will love this book.

  • Amy
    2019-03-05 00:16

    Bhutan captured my imagination back in my son's freshman year at Stanford because of a connection with one of his Stanford faculty and the Royal family. He almost spent part of that summer there, but time and finances worked against him heading to the Happiest Kingdom on Earth. Had he gone, he would have been in Bhutan the same time Lisa Napoli first went there, to help with the fledgling youth radio station Kuzoo FM.There was a lot I liked about this book, but it had little to do with the author's story and more with the country itself. I was fascinated by the story that was behind University of Texas El Paso's architecture being based on Bhutanese architecture. Who knew? I had to look it up to see the Texan interpretation of Himalayan style [ http://universitycommunications.utep.... ] And I, who absolutely love all kinds of graffiti and wall art, or native art that decorates homes in other country got a huge kick out of learning many homes in Bhutan has phalluses painted on them to ward off evil. Of course, that got a google search. Amazing. The unfolding of democracy, and the way auspicious dates were calculated intrigued me. Then there was the general beauty of the country. I spent hours looking at photographs.As to Napoli's story itself, I had less infatuation. But she had a tale to tell, and told it well. (Many of my frustrations in reading were because this was an uncorrected proof, and there were some mixups with names of characters - real vs fictional. I hope those were straightened out before the book went to press.) Napoli's needs and life are very different from mine, but I still can appreciate her journey -- especially since she gave me a lift, via armchair travelling, to the beautiful kingdom of Bhutan. Many thanks to readitforward.com for this book. I shall be passing it along via www.bookcrossing.com (http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/9...).

  • Donna
    2019-03-21 03:11

    No matter how happy Bhutan is, I would not fare well there. It may be beautiful, but the fiery hot peppers they favor would leave me in tears and starving.Lisa Napoli, author of “Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth,” worked for public radio in California and was dissatisfied with her life.Through a chance meeting at a party, she winds up on the other side of the world, spending six weeks helping radio station Kuzoo FM operate, well, more like a professional radio station.The pace of life, of course, is very different in Bhutan, as is the standard of living. Oh, and the cuisine. Bhutanese eat a lot of rice and insanely hot chili peppers. Unable to tolerate the latter, Napoli survives largely on the former.Napoli arrives at a time when Bhutan is undergoing political changes. The king steps down, turning over power to his son, and national elections take place. As the footprint of the capital city of Thimphu continues to grow, the country maintains a $250-per-day tax on tourists so it won’t become like (shudder) Nepal.Napoli ends up sponsoring one of the women who worked at the radio station on a kind of internship in the United States. Ngawang is overwhelmed by our country and disappears for months after her visa runs out. She does end up back in Bhutan, though I don’t want to give anything away.Napoli continues to return to the country that captured her heart and changed her life. Her account of her adventure educated me about a country I had heard of but didn’t really know anything about and made me think about the good and the bad of modernization.Early in the book, she talks about attending an experimental workshop in positive psychology. One of the teacher’s suggestions is to write down, at the end of every day, three good things that happened. I’m going to start doing that, and I think that exercise in gratitude is the most important thing I got out her road to Shangri-La.Four out of five stars.

  • Susan (aka Just My Op)
    2019-03-06 02:32

    Bhutan, with its Gross National Happiness emphasis, its gorgeous and isolated setting, wonderful people, and sudden ascent into the 21st century, has intrigued me, so I couldn't wait to read this memoir by a woman who volunteered at a fledgling radio station in the country. And I loved learning more about this unique country.Unfortunately, the writing didn't quite live up to my expectations; it just didn't grab me as much as I had anticipated. To start, the author writes about Harris and Matt, Benjamin and Sebastian. Are Harris and Matt the same person? What about Benjamin and Sebastian? I hate flipping back to try to figure out who is who. To be expected with Bhutanese names, but could have easily been avoided with the American ones.The author is having a midlife crisis. She has chosen a career in modern media but seems to dislike almost everything about her chosen field. Something terrible happened to her when she was young, and it has understandably affected her later decisions, but too much of the book just seems like whining and I couldn't connect to her feelings. She hated the food in Bhutan and the stray dogs annoyed her, as though it were the dogs' fault they were strays, and couldn't seem to let either of those things go.I did love reading about some of the Bhutanese people, the irrepressible Ngawang and her impressions of the United States, the Rinpoche who turned out to be not so nice. The author had advantages and accomplishments greater than the people she was helping, but it sometimes came across as her being a bit smug although I'm sure it wasn't meant that way. I liked this book and am glad I read it but didn't love it – the writing just didn't pull me in.I was given a copy of this book by the publisher, for which I am grateful.

  • David
    2019-03-03 22:27

    I received this book as part of the Goodreads First Reads program.After a chance meeting at a party, Lisa Napoli stumbles across the adventure of a lifetime. Radio Shangri-La covers two main narrative threads: a memoir of Napoli's sort of mid-life crisis and the history of Bhutan as well as its increasingly rapid democratization and commercialization. As a geography/culture junkie, I found the latter topic more compelling. Indeed, at times Napoli's personal developments seem a bit superfluous to my main interests in the book.This is a great read for those who wish to find out more about the tiny little-known kingdom landlocked between India and China. I found myself often comparing and contrasting Bhutan with the nearby and similar, but long converted into a spiritual tourist mecca, Nepal. While Nepal caters to backpackers seeking spiritual enlightenment, Bhutan targets an elite brand of tourist, even charging a daily rate to visit the country.It was also interesting to see the cultural impact of Kuzoo FM upon the Bhutanese people. In a country where a large percentage of the population is under the age of 30, it is no surprise the programming, especially the station's musical content, caters to a younger crowd.Napoli's account of Bhutan's movement from monarchy into democracy and the bumps along the way also provide food for thought. The people are still very much enamored of their king and royalty, and while the first election is taken very seriously, Napoli provides insight from citizens who are cautious about the changes.A fascinating insight into a quickly Westernizing nation, Radio Shangri-La is an informative, insightful read.

  • Amanda
    2019-02-24 03:35

    Dear Lisa Napoli,What DID you learn in Bhutan, the happiest place on earth? As a fellow traveller I hestitate to criticize your "Travel changed my life because it made me happy" epiphany, but such an epiphany does not a whole book merit. I enjoyed learning about Bhutan, a country I had only once heard of before when I went to a Gap Year meetup and a presenter who had been to nearly every country in the world insisted that Bhutan was the absolute best, and the absolute most expensive. He offered no further detail, so I did enjoy learning about the cultural nuances but I feel like Radio Shangri-La had the most potential when it explored how globalization was beginning to impact this small landlocked Asian kingdom. But throughout the reading of the many generalizations that composed this book, I saw more how Lisa Napoli visited Bhutan more than Bhutan itself, or, for that matter, how exactly Bhutan changed Lisa Napoli. Seems like you had a swell time, Lisa, but the picture you paint of Bhutan doesn't exactly seem happy, what with its people running away to America go gather up the big piles of money stereotype that your presence seems to enforce. Sincerely,Amanda

  • Laura
    2019-03-20 03:37

    Read this right after Beyond the Sky and the Earth, by Jamie Zeppa, who lived and taught in Bhutan for several years. The two books provided very different perspectives on Bhutan, not only because the action took place a few decades apart but because Napoli didn't immerse herself in Bhutanese culture to the extent Zeppa did. (For example, Napoli avoided the Bhutanese staple dish, finding it too spicy and foreign, instead favoring imported Western goods; Zeppa learned to cook and eat like a native. Zeppa lived in and explored many rural areas on her own, by foot, whereas Napoli lived in comparatively cosmopolitan Thimphu, apparently didn't do too much exploring, and seemed to always be driven around.)Although less recent, Zeppa's memoir seemed more informative and thorough. I enjoyed that one more, but I did get a lot out of this one and I would definitely recommend it.

  • Sarah Booth
    2019-03-17 03:27

    Story of a 43 year old Public Radio worker who ended up in Bhutan for 6 weeks helping with the country's first radio station for Bhutanese youth with music (pirated from the internet) and news of a country that was just opening up to outsiders and had literally kept the rest of the world out to maintain its "Gross National Happiness". But the new king, who would be starting elections for a democratic government instead of the singular power of the monarchy which had been run by this family for the last 100 years. It is a time of a changing company and also a changing view of the world and her life by the woman who goes to volunteer her time and experience all that is Bhutan and the happiest place on Earth and discovers what characteristics make it so and how to incorporate these ideas into her own life. I love it. It was written by a woman very much like myself and in a very similar life situation as myself so I had that extra connection to it as I read the first person account of her experiences with the country, its people and how it all changed how she view the world and herself. I highly recommend the story.

  • Jeannie Mancini
    2019-03-20 01:23

    Although I am an avid reader of travel narrative books, Radio Shangri-La was my first armchair adventure story into the country of Bhutan.While going through a personal midlife crisis, Lisa Napoli realizes she needs some changes in her life. Her personal relationships, her work at an L.A. radio station, and her previous view of the American dream dipped in a materialist world, were ingredients causing her life to fold and unhappiness to descend upon her life devoid of joy and meaning. One evening at a party she is introduced to an international tour guide named Sebastian who is not only handsome but intriguing, living a life most people would love to experience. Days later she is invited by him to avail upon an opportunity to assist a small radio station in Bhutan. Desperate to break the monotony of her life and to find new meaning, Lisa accepts without batting an eye.Radio Shangri-la is Lisa's story of her many trips to beautiful Bhutan, a small country tucked hidden in amongst the high peaks of the Himalayas. A land much like that of Tibet. Landing in the "Happiest Kingdom on Earth", Lisa is soon accepted by the local Bhutanese and ingratiates herself by assisting with a new radio station called Kuzoo FM. Teaching the staff ethics of media do's and don'ts, helping the members as they adopt techniques of gathering information, reporting accurate news, sticking to facts, and creating a station that will have all people of Bhutan listening 24/7 as faithfully as listening to their beliefs in Buddha, proves rewarding as Lisa soon sees positive results as Kuzoo improves.The book entails many vignettes of Lisa's work at the station, her friendships with the locals, and her new views on what is important in life, taken from a world without materialistic problems. Readers will become entranced in the many aspects of the Bhutanese culture such as their food, clothing, religious beliefs, folklore, changing politics, and the effects of media such as the internet and television, two things previously not allowed in Bhutan until very recently. Lisa slowly falls in love with her surroundings and is captivated by Bhutan and it's people. Over the course of a few years she makes many visits to Bhutan to both garner knowledge of their culture and to teach them about ours. I very much enjoyed her many meanderings into comparing American life with theirs and I think this book will allow other readers to stop and contemplate how our media-filled world has created many social and cultural dilemmas for our own country.As travel narrative books go, Radio Shangri-la is an enjoyable read filled with facts and fun antidotes the author chose to share with us. On the whole, her story is an engaging one and I feel most readers will find it an interesting tale.My only complaint with the book is the many, many typos and various errors. I was lucky enough to get an Advanced Reading copy paperback and can only hope that these errors get cleaned up for the official copy. There were more than just a few, and not only in the realm of spelling, grammar or words running together without spaces. Those I can tolerate if they get fixed before the release date. What I found hard to accept was the fact that within the book, three times the author would be referring to one character by one name, and then erroneously slip and call that character by another name as if forgetting who she was writing about. I saw it three times and found that pretty poor. Again, hopefully these mistakes get remedied before publishing.Taking out my comment about errors, I give 3.5 stars to this intriguing adventure into a country we don't get exposed to too often within the world of literature or non-fiction titles. I liked it, enjoyed it, learned a few things, I just can't say it was fabulous.

  • Louise
    2019-03-16 06:07

    Story Description:Crown Publishing Group | February 8, 2011 | e-Book | KOBOLisa 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. My Review:In January of 2007, 43-year-old, Lisa Napoli, found herself trekking up a treacherous mountain in Bhutan to a place called “Takshang” built on a sheer cliff that soars ten thousand feel into the sky. Lisa is in Bhutan for the summer volunteering at a radio station called Kuzoo Fm.The Bhutanese people are very hearty in many ways. They live off the land as farmers which is a hard life.Trekking up the mountain, Lisa is huffing and puffing against the high altitude and the intensity of the climb. The interesting thing is that children are brought there from the time they are babies, so you often see slight and frail seniors navigating the twists and turns and inclines deftly from memory, in a fraction of the time it takes foreigners half their age. At the top is a cluster of temples of which the most sacred of altar rooms is only open to the public once per year.It is believed that meditating for just one minute at Takshang will bring you exponentially greater blessings than meditating for a month at any other sacred site. What Takshang promises to all who visit is cleansing and renewal. The Bhutanese follow Buddhism and believe the long revered Guru Rinpoche is the Second Buddha. Lisa says “this is the story of my mid-life crises and how I wrestled with and then transcended it...”Over a couple of years, Lisa befriended some wonderful people from the Bhutanese people and returned to Bhutan on three different occasions.I found the book to be extremely interesting as very, very little is known about this closed and secluded country. I would 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.

  • Angie
    2019-03-07 06:16

    "Yet if Akon and Christina Aguilera could dominate the airwaves—if cupcakes were being baked and Coca-Cola swigged and a person like me had been allowed in—anything was possible."I almost didn't make it through the preface of this book. There are far too many white-woman-having-a-midlife-crisis-and-deciding-to-travel-around-the-globe memoirs out there, and this one certainly doesn't start off any differently from the rest of them.One of the differences that sets this book apart from the rest of the sludge is that the moments of clarity, the epiphanies, that often come at the end of other authors' whirlwind tales are addressed at the very beginning. All the bullshit of Bhutan being a "relatively media-free universe" where "people made it a priority to look into each other's eyes and communicate, soul-to-soul, uninterrupted..." is pulled towards the front of the book, which allows Napoli to transcend the platitudes.The first moment where she does so comes relatively early in the book, and was the moment where I started thinking I might actually be able to read (and enjoy!) the book until the end. Rather than taking being swindled by a rinpoche and painting it in black and white (either by portraying all monks as terrible scammers, or whining about how a poor white woman was taken advantage of by a man of the cloth), she presented the whole ordeal rather plainly. Shit happens. Yes, this happens, and everyone knows it, and you just have to roll with the flow when it does. I really appreciated Napoli's openness, her ability to describe things as they were without too much conjecture or judgment.There's a subtle irony in these types of memoirs that Napoli allows to come through her book. She was asked to visit Bhutan to assist with Bhutan's first radio station, and despite her visions of training the staff to be professional on-air and to use the station "as a tool to prepare for [Bhutan's] impending democracy," they mainly wanted to know the best sites to download American pop music for their shows.This book exceeded my expectations—in part because Napoli was a likable narrator. I couldn't stand Gilbert, but Napoli struck me as the kind of person I would totally hang out with. She kept her identity while in Bhutan ("Since I had been told that it wasn't disrespectful for a Westerner to wear Western clothing, I opted not to outfit myself in the Bhutanese national dress..." "As much as I think I comprehend the magnitude of the changes here in recent years, as compassionate a student as I may be of the impact media will have on the people, I am aware that I don't really have any idea what it's like to be Bhutanese...") and experienced some of the things that I have that I have had a hard time trying to explain to other people who just want the black-and-white.All in all, a decent read. I'm giving this four stars here, but I'd probably give it three and a half. And if you're thinking of reading "Eat, Pray, Love"--don't. Read this instead!

  • Brenda
    2019-02-27 01:24

    Any time you read a book that isn't based on the United States and our language you often have names of people and places that makes the eye like the tongue when reading out loud, stumble every time you see it. That is what slowed me down with this book. It wasn't totally enjoyable for me, I didn't zoom through the book in a day or two as I do when reading books I'm totally enamored with. This story was a true story of one womens fascination with a country that she went to visit often after her first trip to help out with their new radio station. She went through total economic shock, she lived with so much less, so much that wasn't aH available, and found that in some ways it made life simpler and easier and happier. At the end of the book she said: Here's to believing that the next person you meet could very well be a source of adventure, if not an instrutment of change! I do so believe that.Here is the info from the back of the book: 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.

  • Staci
    2019-03-04 04:27

    Why I read it:I really enjoy reading about people's experiences living countries that I know next to nothing about. I remember watching The Today's Show feature about Bhutan, which sparked my curiosity about the country and their way of life. When the chance to read this one came along I thought it sounded like a great read.What's it about: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.What worked:I enjoyed reading about the people that Napoli met while living and working in Bhutan. She made the culture come to life and left me intrigued to explore more about this little country on my own.I really liked seeing "gadgets and conveniences" that I take for granted through the innocent eyes of the citizens of Bhutan. I have a new respect for the "stuff" that I take for granted and have questioned myself as to what really makes me happy......What didn't work:I wanted to learn more about the author and I guess I was looking or hoping for a more in-depth reflections from her. I walked away from the book feeling that she only scratched the surface in regards to her feelings and emotions and that I really didn't make a connection with her. Maybe I was expecting too much and that honestly is my fault. Final Thoughts:Overall, I liked this book and would recommend it to my friends that are interested in learning more about Bhutan and the author's experience working in this country that was (it has now moved more into the western world...which I think is a bit sad) virtually cut-off from outside influences. She writes very well and does a great job of capturing the way of life of those who live there. She made me want to investigate more about Bhutan on my own time and what more could I ask of a book???

  • Jaylia3
    2019-03-22 06:08

    In spite of being in the news business herself, Lisa Napoli was tired of its noisy, incessant, over simplified sound bites, so when offered a six month volunteer position at a startup radio station in faraway Bhutan she put her job at NPR on hold and jumped at the chance. Bhutan, a tiny landlocked Buddhist kingdom surrounded by India and China and full of gorgeous alpine vistas, is famous for having a king who prefers promoting Gross National Happiness over Gross National Product. Mass communication is still relatively new in Bhutan and Napoli’s young coworkers at Radio Kuzoo FM, Bhutan’s first nongovernmental broadcast radio station, are excited and enthusiastic and just a little naïve. Radio Kuzoo is a modern version of the old fashioned community radio stations that we don’t have much of in the US anymore. Kuzoo played youth music--whatever they could download--from around the world, read the test scores of students waiting to hear if they had passed the national exam, and held an American Idol inspired Valentine’s Day contest where listeners called in and sang. Other times listeners called to chat with the staff, or dedicated songs, or send greeting to other listeners who had called in earlier. For Napoli, Bhutan is as much a state of mind as a place on a map—it’s an antidote to her NY/LA world where people pay more attention to their smart phones than each other—and her trip is as much a journey of self-discovery as it is a trek to a beautiful, unique country halfway around the world. I greatly enjoyed reading about both aspects of her journey. Radio Shangri-La is a thoughtful, colorful, informative account of a visit to a part of the world most of us will never get to see for ourselves.

  • Carol
    2019-03-04 03:19

    Lisa Napoli was in the middle of what I would call a mid life crisis. She was wondering, "Is this all?" She had a job as a radio journalist, but no current romantic attachment, no children and was feeling despair. She had an accidental meeting with a handsome stranger and was presented with the opportunity to go around the world to live in the small country of Bhutan. Instead of measuring its GNP, it measured its, GNH (Gross National Happiness. It is a poor country set with rugged mountains Two third to three fourths of the population are Mahayana Buddists. She would be given room and board but no pay for her job of setting up and train the radio announcers for Kuzoo FM Radio, the country's only radio station. The irony was that she fleeing a complete overload of communciaton,TV, radio, and cell phones and yet she was undertaking this to bring Bhutan radio!She dived into a culture that takes life very slow, has very different customs and hot and spicy food.I enjoyed this books so much, I felt that I was right there with her in Bhutan, enjoying the gorgeous mountains, making friends with people who have a totally different life experience and to whom shopping was not the least bit important to them. I relaxed and enjoyed the trip into this far off world.Come along with her and enjoy this stay in Bhutan and learn what is important in life.I recommend this to anyone who has ever wanted to get away from the confusion and stress of today.

  • Marija
    2019-03-21 05:23

    We all have one place we’d love to visit “someday.” Bhutan is mine. I read everything I can get my hands on about that obscure country. So when “Radio Shangri-La” came out, I grabbed a copy. Lisa Napoli, in a mid-life rut, got a fantastic opportunity dropped on her lap: consult with Bhutan’s very first radio station, a fledgling start-up run by hip young people. Napoli lacks the ability to make her stories come alive. I was more than half-way through the book before she provided a very brief day-in-the-life of her consulting job. Her descriptions were so vague, I felt like she was telling someone else’s story. While in Bhutan, she apparently spent more time with ex-pats than natives, so we never got to know the people around her. She didn’t like the food, and she glossed over relationships. While showing her photos to a woman on the plane ride home, she remarks “Here’s Pema getting her hair curled and Pink getting her eyebrows threaded at a beauty ‘saloon’ before a night on the town.” This would have been more effective if she’d actually described that scene while she was there, if she was there. But the snapshot is the one and only mention.If you’re looking for a book on Bhutan that makes you feel like you’re really there, read Jamie Zeppa’s “Beyond the Sky and the Earth.” Bhutan has changed tremendously since Zeppa’s book was published eleven years ago, but her writing is far superior to Napoli’s.

  • Ashley V
    2019-03-08 22:31

    I wasn't crazy about this book. It did not meet my expectations as far as a travel memoir goes, and it was actually borderline offensive. The beginning strikes me as very Eat, Pray, Love, which is not a bad thing. I really enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love. However, as the book went on I developed a pretty significant distaste for the writer. She seems very entitled and perpetually unhappy despite was seems to be a very cushy life. Beyond that, the way she views the Bhutanese people is as if they are stupid. I couldn't handle the way she consistently talked down to them and several times made judgements about what they (especially Ngawang) could and couldn't handle. Additionally, she seemed so resistant when the Bhutanese people were trying to share their culture with her. She refused to wear the traditional dress, and the only time she did, she brushed off the fact that she wasn't even wearing it properly. She seemed annoyed anytime somebody offered up a factoid of any kind, and God forbid she didn't get her eggs or peanut butter. As far as travel memoirs go, this one have very little information about the country and culture itself and I found the writer to be somewhat mocking it most of the time. I'm actually confused as to why she would choose to write the book at all if her true feelings are as they come across. Overall, it wasn't as enjoyable a reading experience as I'd hoped. I think I'll search out another book about Bhutan that might better meet my expectations.

  • Renee
    2019-02-23 03:37

    This book is about the author’s accident introduction to Bhutan and her series of visits between 2007 and 2010. I certainly learned more about the country and found that aspect of the book interesting. For example, Bhutan until recently had no access to television, radio, internet. Not a heavily tourist destination, as many travelers are put off by the (still in place)$200 per person per day tourist tax. The country boasts the idea of measuring a society's GNP worth in “Gross National Happiness”, however that seems to be more of government propaganda than fact.My interest was held much more in the beginning, and then lessened as I continued. Lisa Napoli is a seasoned NPR news reporter and journalist, yet this book seemed native, in the “most countries are better than the US” sense. Sometimes basic/un-fussy people are just that, it doesn’t make them more spiritual, knowing, and closer to God or for that matter happier. Although the author may think it charming that the Bhutanese lug up gallons of water from the not-so-near wells, I’m sure if you asked any one of those folks if they felt more true in spirit because of this, I could be wrong, but I’m guessing the majority would tell you they kill for a kitchen sink and a tap with hot and cold water…...

  • Catherine
    2019-03-18 06:14

    What I liked: Learning about the history & current (well, at least a few years ago) situation in BhutanInsight into Bhutanese culture, especially the interactions between the author and her radio station co-workersViews of expat culture in Bhutan and the effect of Western culture on BhutanWhat I could have done without:Extended criticism of Western culture and materialism -- I think anyone reading this book understands where we're lacking without having it explained in detailToo much information about the author's personal life -- I feel like a jerk writing that, because the author opened her life up so much, but I didn't feel like I needed to know so much about her. That's one of the same things I disliked about Eat, Pray, Love. Both books straddled the line between travel lit and memoir, whereas I prefer books that focus more on the travel with just a bit of personal info (a la J. Maarten Troost.Overall, I did like the book, which was my fist (but hopefully not last) First Reads win.

  • jaxnsmom
    2019-02-22 02:35

    I had really been looking forward to reading Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in the Happiest Kingdom on Earth. It was enjoyable, but didn't live up to my expectations. To me, a good travel memoir draws you in so you feel like you're participating in the adventure. Unfortunately, here I felt like I was on the outside looking in, there was no real connection with what was going on. Lisa Napoli's job was to help set up a youth-oriented radio station, but she didn't really describe her job. In fact, she seemed to be superfluous. For the most part, I didn't get the sense that she immersed herself in the culture, and didn't make an effort to explore areas outside of Thimphu. Ms. Napoli did describe the changes going on in Bhutan, the political reform, and the opening up to the modern world. But it felt incomplete, more like a fairy tale where everything would go right, and everyone was going to live happily ever after.