All things bookish!

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 t

he 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.  (Source: Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in the Happiest Kingdom on Earth)

NotJustLaura’s Review:  I requested a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.  I then sat on the book for ages and ages before I read it and for this I apologise!

I first heard of Bhutan when I was studying a multi-disciplinary course with The Open University.  I learned that television had recently been introduced to the Kingdom and that this has brought about social change which might (or might not) be a good thing.  The jury was still out.  Ms Napoli made her first visit to Bhutan probably a little after the period I studied and writes about the experience (and subsequent visits) in this very interesting book.  She goes as a working volunteer rather than a tourist – a differentiation made clear to the reader as she and a tourist flick through each other’s photographs on the flight home.  This is a period of great turmoil for Bhutan as it moves towards democracy and welcomes Western technology into a previously totally Buddhist society.  It’s also a time of change for Ms Napoli – she’s leaving her troubled past behind, accepting her present and making the changes she needs to for the future.  In this book she shares with a remarkable honesty and lack of self-pity while entwining her own story with that of Bhutan.  The result is a captivating memoir which I hope she will add to in the future.

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