#1 National Bestseller • Winner of the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize • Winner of the 2019 Rakuten Kobo Emerging Writer Prize in Literary Nonfiction • Winner of the 2019 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction • Shortlisted for the 2019 Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature • Finalist for the 2019 BC Book Prizes’ Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Award • A CBC and Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2018 • Globe and Mail and CBC Books Bestseller • Indie Next Pick • New York Times Book Review “Recommended Travel Read” • NPR All Things Considered "Summer Reading List" • Winner of the Banff Mountain Book Award for Adventure Travel • Outside Magazine Book Club Pick • Amazon and Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Month
Buy at your local bookstore or here:
As a teenager, Kate Harris realized that the career she most craved—that of a generalist explorer, equal parts swashbuckler and metaphysician—had gone extinct. From her small-town home in Ontario, it seemed as if Marco Polo, Magellan and their like had long ago mapped the whole earth. So she vowed to become a scientist and go to Mars.
Well along this path, Harris set off by bicycle down a short section of the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel Yule. This trip was just a simulacrum of exploration, she thought, not the thing itself—a little adventure to pass the time until she could launch for outer space. But somewhere in between sneaking illegally across Tibet, studying the history of science and exploration at Oxford, and staring down a microscope for a doctorate at MIT, she realized that an explorer, in any day and age, is by definition the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines. Forget charting maps, naming peaks, leaving footprints on another planet: what she yearned for was the feeling of soaring completely out of bounds. And where she'd felt that most intensely was on a bicycle, on a bygone trading route. So Harris quit the laboratory and hit the Silk Road again with Yule, this time determined to bike it from beginning to end.
Weaving adventure and deep reflection with the history of science and exploration, Lands of Lost Borders explores the nature of limits and the wildness of a world that, like the self and like the stars, can never be fully mapped.
Silver medals at elementary school science fairs are excellent predictors of a glorious future in adventure. The more serious the photo, the wilder the wandering to come. Melissa “Mel” Yule and Kate in 1993.
Looking giddy and pale with sunscreen in Leh, India, here we are (Kate and Mel) after getting off our bikes for the very last time on the Silk Road, 2011.
Check out more photos from the Silk Road.
Here’s a video we threw together with iMovie featuring 10 months, 10 countries, & 10,000 km of our 2011 Silk Road bike ride...in roughly 10 minutes.
Here’s another Kate & Mel iMovie documentary special, this time about our first bike ride on the Silk Road in 2006. We never got around to making episodes 2 or 3.
Kate Harris is a writer with a knack for getting lost. Her essays and journalism have appeared in Outside, The Walrus, Canadian Geographic Travel, and The Georgia Review, among other publications, with “notable” citations in Best American Essays and Best American Travel Writing. A former Rhodes and Morehead-Cain scholar, and past student of science and the history of science, she has won multiple awards for her literary non-fiction. Canadian Geographic named her one of the country’s top modern-day explorers for journeys edging the limits of nations and prudence, such as a biking across borders on the Silk Road and skiing after Marco Polo sheep in the Pamirs, but writing remains her preferred mode of exploration.
Kate lives off-grid in a log cabin with her wife and dog near the BC/Yukon/Alaska border, with stints in Ontario for family time, her wife’s job, and hot showers. Lands of Lost Borders is her first book.
As Virginia Woolf put it,
"That would be a glorious life, to addict oneself to perfection; to follow the curve of the sentence wherever it may lead, into deserts, under drifts of sand, regardless of lures, of seductions; to be poor always and unkempt; to be ridiculous in Piccadilly."
Or from Robert Bly's perspective,
“If you have a tiny farm, you need to love poetry more than the farm. If you sell apples, you need to love poetry more than the apples. It’s good to settle down somewhere and love poetry more than that.”
Why the World Needs Barry Lopez, Outside (2019)
Where Not to Travel in 2019, or Ever, The Walrus (2019)
The Future of Exploration, The Walrus (2018)
Borderski, Sidetracked Magazine (2017)
Lands of Lost Borders, The Georgia Review (“notable” selection in Best American Travel Writing 2015)
The Contours of Cold, CutBank (“notable” selection in Best American Essays 2013)
Tuktoyaktuk or Bust, The Walrus (2014)
Solute & isotope geochemistry of subsurface ice melt seeps in Antarctica, GSA Bulletin
News & Events
+ Shortlisted for the 2019 Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature
+ Winner of the 2019 Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction
+ Winner of the 2019 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize in Literary Nonfiction
+ Winner of the 2019 RBC Taylor Prize
+ Winner of the 2018 Banff Mountain Book Award for Adventure Travel
+ Finalist for the 2019 BC Book Prizes’ Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Award
+ A Kirkus & CBC “Best Nonfiction Book of 2018”
+ Featured in/on The New York Times Book Review, The Globe and Mail, The Guardian, CBC’s The Current, The Hindu, Maclean’s, Hazlitt, Minneapolis Star Tribune, NPR, Outside Magazine, Christian Science Monitor, Global News, Vancouver Sun, and elsewhere.
UPCOMING EVENTS In 2019
+ Oct. 28-30: Jack Matthews Fellowship lecture, Peterborough, ON
+ Nov. 3: Toronto International Festival of Authors, Toronto, ON
+ Nov. 6: Wings WorldQuest talk, NYC
+ Nov. 7: Edna Staebler Award, Wilfrid Laurier University—Waterloo.
+ Nov. 8: Edna Staebler Award “Meet the author” event at Wilfred Laurier University—Brantford.
+ Nov. 14-17: Kendal Mountain Festival, UK.
Literary Representation: Stuart Krichevsky
Interested in having me speak at your event or conference?
Email my publicist, Ruta Liormonas, for availability and rates. Partial list of clients:
• RBC Royal Bank • World 50 • North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) • Canadian Ecology Centre • YMCA • International Hypoxia Symposium • Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC) • Morehead-Cain Foundation • Banff Mountain Film & Book Festival • Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival