The basics: The sub-title of Radio Shangri-La could easily be 'What I Learned About Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth.' Lisa Napoli's fascinating memoir takes her from a chance encounter at a Manhattan dinner party to Bhutan, where she uses her career in radio to assist Bhutan's new (and only) radio station.
My thoughts: I confess, before I read Radio Shangri-La, I could find Bhutan on a map, but I knew next to nothing about its people, history, and customs. Ultimately, I would call it a travel memoir, and I learned as much about Bhutan as I did about Lisa. Lisa is quite candid about her own happiness, both personally and professionally. Originally from New York, she's in her early 40's and working for public radio in Los Angeles. Lisa's fascination with Bhutan is partly universal but partly intensely personal. Internet and television are recent additions to Bhutan, and Lisa appreciated a certain simplicity of life.
The changes in Bhutan are a topic of much consideration in this memoir. Bhutan is becoming more westernized (or modernized). I was fascinated by this shift in Bhutanese thinking and culture. Lisa Napoli provided a wonderful window into Bhutan and achieved a lovely balance of personal narrative and Bhutanese narrative. I got the sense the people she encountered and befriended in Bhutan would be as welcoming to you or me (if we could ever secure the elusive tourist visas and manage to pay the $200/day tourist tax to visit Bhutan ourselves.)
The verdict: I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Lisa's personal journey as well as experiencing my own personal journey learning about Bhutan.
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Length: 304 pages
Publication date: February 8, 2011
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours (the entire tour schedule is here)
Want to learn more about Lisa? Check out her website, follow her on Twitter, visit Radio Shangri-La's Facebook page, and her blog about Bhutan. Lisa is also happy to Skype with book clubs (or visit you in person if you're in Los Angeles!)
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