The Book


  Knopf Canada  and  HarperCollins US/UK , with translations forthcoming in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Taiwan, and China.

Knopf Canada and HarperCollins US/UK, with translations forthcoming in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Taiwan, and China.

CBC and Kirkus Best Nonfiction of 2018 • Longlisted for the RBC Taylor PrizeNew York Times Book Review “Recommended Travel Read” • Globe and Mail Bestseller • Indie Next Pick • NPR All Things Considered "Summer Reading List" • Winner of the Banff Mountain Book Award for Adventure Travel • Outside Magazine “Book Club” Pick • Amazon & Christian Science Monitor “Best Book of the Month” • “A modern classic.” —Pico Iyer

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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.

  • Photos from Mel’s & my 2011 Cycling Silk expedition, on which the book is based.

  • Video featuring 10 months, 10 countries, & 10,000 km of the Silk roughly 10 minutes.