Friday, March 25, 2011

Book Review: Radio Shangri-La, by Lisa Napoli

I love books where the author feels emotionally adrift and heads off to an exotic foreign land to find herself or reconnect with her family. I have reviewed several books in this genre on this blog, including All over the Map by Laura Fraser, Halfway to Each Other by Susan Pohlman, and Pins on a Map by David Boesch. And, of course, I’ve read the bestselling novel by Elizabeth Gilbert: Eat Pray Love. Now I have a new favorite woman-finds-her-true-self-in-a-foreign-country memoir: Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth, by Lisa Napoli.

In this book, the author is in her early forties, single and childless following a failed marriage. After working in TV and radio most of her life, she’s clearly burned out on the fast-paced chase for news. So, when an opportunity arises to take a short-term position at a start-up radio station in remote Bhutan -- dubbed “The Happiest Place on Earth” -- Napoli decides to go for it. Not surprisingly, her first experience in this tiny kingdom near China and India is pure culture shock. The accommodations are far less than modern, the food is all spicy, and Buddhism is strongly embedded in the culture (and bears little resemblance to the Buddhism commonly practiced in the United States). Nevertheless, Napoli falls in love with this unique country, which is slowly moving into the modern world. The first public elections are being held, television is becoming popular, and the sheltered citizens of Bhutan are starting to become influenced by a world that is encroaching closer and closer. Not surprisingly, this causes Napoli to re-evaluate her priorities, redefine her concept of happiness, and begin to find peace with her situation.

Clearly, those of us who “have it all” can learn a lot from the people of Bhutan, who prize family and relationships above all else. They have very little compared to citizens of the Western world, and yet they seem happier and more content with their lot in life. Napoli returns to her busy life in California, but returns to Bhutan many more times to reclaim this wisdom, which threatens to desert her when she returns to a more modern world. I loved Radio Shangri-La and look forward to reading about more of Napoli’s adventures in Bhutan.


Author’s website:
Book website:
Facebook: and

DISCLOSURE: I was fortunate to win a complimentary copy of this book through Random House’s Read It Forward program. No financial compensation was provided. As an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small commission on sales made through the affiliate links in this post.


  1. Hi there,
    Sounds interesting... Happy Spotlight Saturday Blog Hop... Stopping by to say hello and to let you know I'm following you via GFC! :-)

  2. Hi Susan-Following you via GFC. Please follow me back and join up at my blog hop at Have a great weekend :)


Thank you for your comment. All comments are moderated and will go live after approval.