Tuesday, July 19, 2011

'Radio Shangri-La: What I learned in Bhutan, The Happiest Kingdom on Earth' by Lisa Napoli

Opening lines of the book:
" The approach to the most sacred monastery in the Kingdom of Bhutan is steep and winding and, especially as you near the top, treacherous."

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???


Rating: 7.5/10

Author: Lisa Napoli
Published: February, 2011
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Genre: Travel/Memoir
Source: Amazon Vine Program
ISBN: 9780307453020

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for my review. My thoughts on this book were in no way influenced by the author or publicist.They are my personal reflections based solely on MY experience while reading this novel

© 2011, Staci of Life in the Thumb. All Rights Reserved. If you reading this on a site other than, Life in the Thumb or Staci's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

*review style courtesy of Avis @ She Reads and Reads


  1. I always feel sad when countries move forward. Perhaps cos I long for s simpler time

  2. If I had the money to travel, I'd go in search of a simpler life. :) That aspect of the story intrigues me, though I'm really picky when it comes to memoirs. Glad you enjoyed it for the most part, though.

  3. This sounds really interesting! :):):):):):):):):):):)

  4. I've been curious about this book. Travel memoirs usually appeal to me -think I'd enjoy learning a little more about how life was in Bhutan. Thanks for the review!

  5. I still have yet to read this book. I want too but for some reason it's not screaming out to me to do it anytime soon.

  6. I also enjoy reading a book set in a different country that is different from most of the books I read. I recently read Tiger's Curse and Tiger's Quest which takes place in India and provides a lot of background about Hindu mythology.

    Too bad this main character wasn't fleshed out more though.

  7. This has gotten really good reviews but I haven't quite been inspired to pick it up yet!

  8. I met some wonderful people from Bhutan in an ESL (english as a second language) program our Church ran. They were amazed with the conveniences we enjoy.

  9. I enjoyed this view of Bhutan in the book, but yes, the author didn't give much of herself away!
    Here's my teaser: Book Dilettante

  10. I liked this one too and wanted more from it as well. The author called into my book club and we all loved talking to her.

  11. Thanks, Staci! I do need to get to this one. I love traveling to new places too :) It is sad that they are becoming more westernized, in some respects anyway. You have to take the good (vaccines, medicine) with the bad (the need to buy and to own whether you need it or not).

  12. I hate it when my expectations aren't met. I do love a travel memoir though. I'll keep an eye out for it.

  13. Thanks for this. I have it from the library (and a large stack of other books). This will help me figure out priorities!

  14. I am curious about this book, but I haven't thought much beyond that...

  15. Sounds like a good book with a bird's eye view of a culture I know little about. I probably would have had the same thoughts as you about wanting more of connection with the author. Great review.

  16. It's a good thing when a book inspired you to want to learn more about a topic/culture. It sounds like a thought provoking book.

  17. I agree, it is nice when a book takes you someplace new.

  18. This book intrigues me. I always like reading memoirs of people who go to faraway places. I have this one in my stacks. It's just a matter of being able to get to it.

  19. This does sound like an interesting read! I just may have to give it a try :)

  20. I'm so glad you liked this book. I did too. Very interesting and educational.

  21. Wow, what an interesting sounding book! You got to travel to another country without even leaving home!


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