Monday, March 21, 2011
Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli
When Napoli met the handsome Sebastian at a cookbook party in New York City, she was intrigued by this man who traveled to Bhutan regularly. And when the accomplished L.A.-based journalist (MSNBC, CNN, public radio’s Marketplace) researched the country about which he spoke so enthusiastically, she became entranced with Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan kingdom that sits between India and China.
This country–dubbed “the happiest on earth” because of its focus on environmental and social progress–is hard to get to, with its remote location and governmental deterrents to tourism, like a per-person, per-day tourist tax. But a friend of Sebastian’s needs help with startup radio station Kuzoo FM, so Napoli leaves L.A. and goes to Bhutan for six weeks. She writes, “After more than two decades of reducing even the most complex issues to 1,000 words or less, I was tired of observing life from a distance.” While the author turns an eye on her own motivations (nothing further developed with Sebastian), she refrains from tortured navel-gazing and instead shares and reflects on Bhutan’s people, history, and customs (from painting phalluses on houses to repel evil spirits to Buddhism’s role in daily life). Napoli’s adventures at home and abroad, in nature and career and spirit, will delight readers.
What Did I Think? I became totally absorbed in reading Lisa Napoli's "travel diary"! Lisa's writing is great and as you turn the pages reading, it almost feels like you are right next to Lisa on that plane flying to Bhutan. But what really drew me in was how she got to that point... disillusioned with the fast paced world around her, unhappy and seeking answers at "happy therapy", and questioning her life as she knew it with the "what ifs" we all do every now & then, Lisa just seemed like a lot of people I know. I wanted to know how was she going to get past all of that?! Meeting a handsome stranger who would change all that was like something out of a harlequin romance - I guess fantasies do come true sometimes! But this just made it even more addictive to read. But meeting a country, that was what Lisa was going to introduce me to... and her book, Radio Shangri-La, is about Bhutan, friendships, traditions and change. Ultimately Lisa was charged with helping a small "untouched" country bring a bit of the 21st century to the airwaves, but her tripped proved to be so much more than "business as usual" at the radio station. I would recommend Radio Shangri-La to people who enjoy reading about far off places, because Lisa does a great job of bringing Bhutan to life- the cultural differences, the sweeping landscape and the people themselves. But Radio Shangri-La is also inspirational as Lisa found a piece of happiness for herself as she struggled to take a step back and really connect with the world around her. Loved this book!
A Little About Lisa... When Lisa Napoli found herself unhappy with her work in the fast-paced U.S. media world, she volunteered to help start Bhutan’s first youth-oriented radio station. Bhutan is a small kingdom in the Himalayas, home to 650,000 residents, most of whom make their living as subsistence farmers. The nation has experienced rapid change in the past forty years, becoming a democracy in 2008 after a century of monarchy. In her time in Bhutan, Napoli learned more about the people, history and culture of the “last Buddhist kingdom” and the “happiest kingdom on Earth,” and she also learned quite a bit about herself. She’s sharing those lessons in her new book, Radio Shangri-la: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth. Earlier in her career, Lisa was the Internet correspondent for MSNBC, a columnist for MSNBC.com, and the first staff reporter/columnist at the NY Times Cybertimes, now defunct. She’s also worked at a division of the home shopping channel QVC, in craft services for the horror film Hellraiser 3, and in public relations for Summit House, an alternative to prison for women and their kids in Greensboro, North Carolina. She began her career at CNN in 1984.
I want to thank Lisa from TLC Book Tours for inviting me to part of the Virtual Book Tour for Radio Shangri-La by Lisa Napoli! What a treat reading this memoir was!