Lands of Lost Borders

Lands of Lost Borders

A Journey on the Silk Road

eBook - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:

"Lands of Lost Borders carried me up into a state of openness and excitement I haven't felt for years. It's a modern classic."—Pico Iyer

A brilliant, fierce writer, and winner of the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize, makes her debut with this enthralling travelogue and memoir of her journey by bicycle along the Silk Road—an illuminating and thought-provoking fusion of The Places in Between, Lab Girl, and Wild that dares us to challenge the limits we place on ourselves and the natural world.

As a teenager, Kate Harris realized that the career she craved—to be an explorer, equal parts swashbuckler and metaphysician—had gone extinct. From what she could tell of the world from small-town Ontario, the likes of Marco Polo and Magellan had mapped the whole earth; there was nothing left to be discovered. Looking beyond this planet, she decided to become a scientist and go to Mars.

In between studying at Oxford and MIT, Harris set off by bicycle down the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel. Pedaling mile upon mile in some of the remotest places on earth, she realized that an explorer, in any day and age, is the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines. Forget charting maps, naming peaks: what she yearned for was the feeling of soaring completely out of bounds. The farther she traveled, the closer she came to a world as wild as she felt within.

Lands of Lost Borders, winner of the 2018 Banff Adventure Travel Award and a 2018 Nautilus Award, is the chronicle of Harris's odyssey and an exploration of the importance of breaking the boundaries we set ourselves; an examination of the stories borders tell, and the restrictions they place on nature and humanity; and a meditation on the existential need to explore—the essential longing to discover what in the universe we are doing here.

Like Rebecca Solnit and Pico Iyer, Kate Harris offers a travel account at once exuberant and reflective, wry and rapturous. Lands of Lost Borders explores the nature of limits and the wildness of the self that can never fully be mapped. Weaving adventure and philosophy with the history of science and exploration, Lands of Lost Borders celebrates our connection as humans to the natural world, and ultimately to each other—a belonging that transcends any fences or stories that may divide us.

Published: Dey Street Books


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jan 28, 2020

What an amazing story and author! Not only her adventurousness (sneaking across the Tibetan border!) and athleticism/endurance (bicycling so long and hard and at such elevation on such rough roads) but her writing style is so poetic and beautiful, too! Bonus: she also is a huge fan of the Voyager golden record! 3 thumbs up!

Apr 06, 2019

What a great read! I was filled with a sense of adventure and wonder throughout the book. I really loved the way she explained the geography, geopolitics, cultural significances and the people during her travels.

Mar 15, 2019

A modern travelogue by bicycle along the silk road.
Inspiring, moving, heartfelt and often breathtaking.

Jan 26, 2019

Kate Harris, a Rhodes Scholar, Red Planet obsessed female explorer of the Silk Road(s), and author, takes an adventure of a lifetime with friend Mel. Together they navigate checkpoints and withstand the stress and strains of cultural differences, safety, and bike maintenance juxtaposed by a backdrop of unclaimed beauty and thrill of experience. I barely could pronounce the names of the areas she biked through but it was said well "each name an invitation to nowhere". This is not a travelogue to a bucket list destination but a unique journey into the unknown.
"We long our whole lives for things we’ve never known, places we’ve never been, abstractions that come alive to us in unexpected ways. What does the Silk Road have to do with Mars, except everything? Perhaps the great task of modern explorers is not to conquer but to connect, to reveal how any given thing leads to another: the red planet to the Silk Road, bicycles to the moon, a modern Georgian highway back in time to the Ujarma Fortress."

Oct 30, 2018

What an enjoyable book! Fascinating, well written with a great sense of humor as well.

PimaLib_LoisM Jul 05, 2018

This debut memoir and travelogue by Canadian Katie Harris chronicles the bicycle trip that she took along the Silk Road through Turkey, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, India, Nepal, Tibet and China with her best friend Mel. The two young women bike through snow, ice and crippling heat, often on treacherous roads. Harris achieves her goal of connecting with wild places, but also has to contend with the frustration of getting the necessary papers to travel through these remote areas.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at DBRL

To Top