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Lands of Lost Borders

Out of Bounds on the Silk Road
Written by: Kate Harris
Narrated by: Amy Landon
Length: 10 hrs and 59 mins
4 out of 5 stars (23 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

National Best Seller

Winner of the RBC Taylor Prize

Winner of The Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction

"Every day on a bike trip is like the one before - but it is also completely different, or perhaps you are different, woken up in new ways by the mile."

As a teenager, Kate Harris realized that the career she most craved - that of a generalist explorer, equal parts swashbuckler and philosopher - 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.

To pass the time before she could launch into outer space, Kate set off by bicycle down a short section of the fabled Silk Road with her childhood friend Mel Yule, then settled down to study at Oxford and MIT. Eventually, the truth dawned on her: An explorer, in any day and age, is by definition the kind of person who refuses to live between the lines. And Harris had soared most fully out of bounds right here on Earth, travelling a bygone trading route on her bicycle. So she quit the laboratory and hit the Silk Road again with Mel, this time determined to bike it from the beginning to end.

Like Rebecca Solnit and Pico Iyer before her, Kate Harris offers a travel narrative at once exuberant and meditative, wry and rapturous. 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.

©2018 Kate Harris (P)2019 Penguin Random House Canada

What the critics say

Winner of the 2019 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize in Nonfiction

Finalist for the 2019 Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize (BC Book Prize)

Winner of the 2018 Banff Mountain Book Competition's Adventure Travel Award

“Kate Harris packs more exuberant spirit, intrepid charm, wit, poetry and beauty into her every paragraph than most of us can manage in a lifetime. Whether writing of Pony Club or remotest Tibet, her longing for Mars or her days at Oxford, she braids heart, mind and spirit with a wide-awake vitality that inspires wonder. 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) 

“Kate Harris arrives among us like a meteor - a hurtling intelligence, inquiring into the nature of political borders and the meaning of crossing over. The honesty behind her self-doubt, her championing of simple human friendship, and her sheer determination to explore what she does not know, compel you to travel happily alongside her in Lands of Lost Borders.” (Barry Lopez) 

“This is a hymn to the pure love of travel: a brave and astonishing journey.” (Colin Thubron) 

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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The Borderlands of Beauty

Lyrical and mystical, radical and magical. Thank you for taking us with you on your adventure to the borderlands of Beauty.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Compelling story

I was riveted by the author's narrative about her journey, the places she visited and the people she met. Her experiences piqued her natural interest in history and the impact of industry on the landscape and the lives of the people who live on the land. I found the narrator, however, very difficult to listen to which took away from the story. Her breathy reading was distracting and did not reflect the character. I would definitely listen to another book by Kate Harris but would be mindful to stay away from any reading by Amy Landon.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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I absolutely loved the story, and the descriptions

this was is an amazing story of two women, more fearless than I. The writing and thrill of their journey kept me going through the narrorators voice. as I'm sure great in other narrations, during this reading the narrorator was extremely breathy, did an undescript accent for many different characters that, for myself was distracting from this story. I had to block out the different choice of emphasis and pauses within sentences and words to be able to fall in to the story... which took me about half the book. i will suggest reading the hard copy.

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Amazing, fun story!

This is a wonderfully written story, intertwining history with the progress of the protagonist. This story has me dreaming of my midlife crisis where I drop it all to explore the world. The performer was perfect. I cannot recommend this book enough.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Felt like I was listening to a text book

I expected more imaginative writing and narration from this book. Hard slugging to get through it.

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Amazing book

This book is beautifully written - the only thing I am not crazy about is the narrator.

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Beautiful description, but...

Kate Harris has a unique and stunning way of describing her adventures. Her way with words is rich and wonderful. I also learned a great deal of history and geography listening to this book.
On the less positive side, the "story" rambles on like the longest of roads, leaving the listener little incentive to return and listen to more. The discomfort, shivering, hunger, and sweat of the journey negated the promised silk of the title. In fact, the whole thing seemed so miserable, I am not sure why the two women continued their journey. I just could never really understand why they were so motivated, or persistent.
The book is much too long, and would be improved by leaving out the first third and starting when the actual silk road journey began. The background provided in the long beginning chapters might have been summarized in flashbacks, as was done anyway.
Finally, I will not venture a listen to another book narrated read by Amy Landon. I found her voice too "sigh-like" and lacking in natural qualities.

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Great story

So far I am really enjoying the story but the narrator is lacking. It feels like I’m listening to Siri.

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Wonderful story but not the voice

I really loved the content of the novel and it is incredibly rich in information and culture. The narrator though I disliked immensely and almost stopped listening but story was really captivating.

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Fantasmagoric

Overly descriptive writing, too much talking about Mars.. Far off tangents. The book had it good moments here and there.