[ epub ] Lands of Lost Borders Author Kate Harris – Blockdiagramwiring.co
NATIONAL BESTSELLER WINNER OF THE RBC TAYLOR PRIZE 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 What a disappointing book Kate came across as incredibly privileged I wouldn t have minded reading a book about a woman who biked across Asia and read about her journey from start to finish I would have loved reading about a woman who travels off the beaten path and makes deep meaningful relationships with people and their cultures Reading her boast for pages and pages about how she s an explorer and destined for greatness, chronicling her Oxford and MIT experiences didn t wow me Was it supposed to At one point she has an interaction with a local and he asks what she does She doesn t have an answer for him, because what it seems she does is get degrees and live a life of travel and adventure with no mention of work If it had been a great description of remote cultures I would have put that aside But it s a kid who gets to travel and feel entitled The writing isn t even that great Not impressed. I received an advance reader s copy fro a Goodreads giveaway You can t hep but admire the determination of Ms Harris and her companion Mel to complete the bicycle journey along the Silk Road This journey took over a year in conditions varying from freezing to scorching temperatures, and very little in the way of creature comforts along the way I really enjoyed her descriptions of the terrain, and the many of the historical references to the locations she travelled through, especially in the determination of the geographical borders between countries is established and the routes of some of the traders explorers such as Marco Polo who had traveleld along the route in the past Ms Harris also give an overview of her own history, and what ultimately led to her taking this journey I did feel that there were some unneeded side stories that I skimmed through, especially recounting Darwin s travels and adventures having actually read Darwin s own accounts, I had no need revisiting them. I had been craving a good travel memoir for some time now Kate Harris Lands of Lost Borders not only hit the spot, it completely exceeded my expectations Packed with historical, geographic and scientific facts, literary references and philosophical wisdom, this book is an impressive debut and well deserving the recognition Harris passion, curiosity, and love for mountainous landscapes and vast spaces are contagious Though I ve never felt particularly drawn to Central Asia as a travel destination, nor compelled to hop on an almost yearlong bike trip, her courage and determination certainly are envious As is her ability to recount her journey, and share her experiences The words are put together so perfectly on the pages, I was definitely along for the adventure And I did not want it to end I feel as though the magic of the Silk Road, its incredible stories and people met along the way, are now also a part of me Unexplainably beautiful Kate Harris is a rockstar explorer, and an extremely gifted writer. I won an advanced copy of Lands of Lost Borders from the publisher and it arrived just as I got sick with the first bad cold of the winter I was so excited to delve right in to this delicious read and escape my misery This book is part memoir, part adventure travel guide, part history lesson and part science fiction at least for me Harris had always dreamed of traveling to Mars but found herself instead cycling from Istanbul, Turkey to Leh, India roughly 10,000 km in 1o months For me, her story might as well have taken place on Mars It seemed as remote, unfamiliar and at times, as inhabitable, as life on another planet I can t say her story inspired me to want to live on instant noodles for months at a time or sneak across any border check points but it did make me want to be a daring and inquisitive traveler I thought a lot about what I would give up or what hardships were worth enduring in order to have some of the experiences I dream of having, as a traveler and in life in general Harris is a true explorer with a broad knowledge of science, history and literature As a writer, she weaves this knowledge and experience together with musings on her past relationships and choices, her quirky childhood passions Mars and Marco Polo , her honest reflections on the people she meets along her journey and wraps it all up with a sense of humour and incredibly beautiful and original descriptions all while inspiring the reader to question and perhaps cross the perceived borders in their own lives. Disclaimer I did not receive a free copy of Land of Lost Borders A Journey on the Silk Road I paid full price for it at the bookstore and I am so glad that I did Kate Harris really is a wonderful writer and even than that she is a wonderful thinker Her ability to make connections between her lived and inner experiences and the wider, wilder, world are what make this book fulfilling There are so many books out there about journeys alone the Silk Road that it would seem as though one wouldn t be necessary Ms Harris has written a necessary book Her thoughtfulness about the bigger issues such as wilderness, borders, exploration challenge the reader to think of these concepts in new ways A great finish to my 2018 reading challenge. From small town Ontario, Kate Harris went on to study at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, and earned science degrees from UNC and MIT The passion driving her was space exploration but once she ended up in a lab she took off to explore the Silk Road by bicycle and reinvented herself as a nature and travel writer Her writing style, powers of observation and academic background, along with her thirst for exploration, are such that this memoir deserves to sit with authors like Rory Stewart, Pico Iyor and the sort of classics that Harris includes in her select bibliography And beyond its considerable entertainment value for the armchair traveler, it should be noted that this book very much does what the best of the genre does it makes you want to get outside and explore. Lands of Lost Borders A Journey on the Silk Road is a delightful memoir by author Kate Harris Inspired as a child when she found an illustrated and abridged book, belonging to her mother, and highlighting Marco Polo s travels on the Silk Road Combine that with an adventurous spirit and the dream of one day, pursuing science and perhaps going to Mars, Harris talks a childhood friend, Mel, in accompanying her cycling the fabled and historic Silk Road What follows is an exciting adventure and a testament to these women and the friendships along the way as they crossed and successfully navigated many political borders As a former long distance cyclist although not to that extreme , I loved this bookTraveling by bicycle is a life of simple things taken seriously hunger, thirst, friendship, the weather, the stutter of the world beneath you It was one of those rare moments in life when you measurably accelerate into a new version of yourself That I d pedaled to an altitude I d only previously visited in airplanes, and that I could still breathe, was a revelation I d always hoped we d make it to the Tibetan Plateau, still technically a few passes away, each higher than the last, but now, for the first time, I believed it Tibet I often romantically evoked as the roof of the world What the plateau truly presents is not refuge but a new frame of reference from those dizzying heights, you can glimpse the real roof of our world, the faint swaddling of oxygen and nitrogen that holds us back from the heavens, or the heavens back from us This particular enormity of slow flowing ice, I learned was the Siachen Glacier, one of the last unexplored gaps on the map until the early twentieth century, when the redoubtable Mrs Fanny Bullock Workman hitched up her tweed petticoat and hiked onto its base In her mittened hand she gripped a sign declaring not asking, thank you very much Votes For Women Beyond avenging my childhood ideals of explorers, and figuring out how to be one myself, I wanted to bike the Silk Road as a practical extension of my thesis at Oxford to study how borders make and break what is wild in the world, from mountain ranges to people s minds, and how science, or specifically wilderness conservation, might bridge those divides So there I was, rich in unemployable university degrees, poor in cash, with few possessions to my name beyond a tent, a bicycle, and some books I felt great about my life decisions, until I felt terrified. Always an overachiever, Kate Harris took a rural Ontario child s dream about going to Mars and endeavored to become an astronaut by obtaining an undergrad degree at UNC, earning a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, and starting a doctorate at MIT Along the way, Harris set off on many adventures by bicycle, and when the lab work became too stifling, she enlisted her longtime friend, Mel Yule, to join her in finishing a quest they had started some years before biking the Silk Road from Istanbul to its terminus in the Himalayas On Harris website devoted to this trip, you can watch a highlights video described as showcasing ten months, ten countries, and ten thousand kilometers of the Silk Roadin roughly ten minutes And while the video does capture something of the punishing conditions the women biked through and the lovely people that the pair met along the way, it does nothing to showcase the power of Harris written word in this book the narrative is simply a delight to read, filled with personal anecdotes, historical perspectives, and an academically informed tying together of the disparate bits all written in the awe filled voice of someone who has witnessed the ragged ends of the Earth and was changed by that wildness Lands of Lost Borders is a rare and true pleasure The root word of the word explorer is ex plorare , with exmeaning go out and ploraremeaning to utter a cry Venturing into the unknown, in other words, is only half the job The other half, and maybe the most crucial half for exploration to matter beyond the narrow margins of the self, is coming home to share the tale.The obstacles that Harris and Yule faced on this trip are fascinating to read about, but not wholly unexpected the physical challenge of carrying everything you might need tent and sleeping bag, dry goods and cooking stove, clothes and spare bicycle parts on the frame of your bike as you pedal down roads of varying stability the weather that ranged from a month of sleet in a Turkish winter, to the punishing heat of a desert plain, to snow and thin air in the world s highest mountain range attempting to interact with locals in an everchanging string of languages you don t understand arranging visas to enter countries legally, or sneaking around the barriers to those areas that are barred to foreigners as an adventure tale, there is much to inspire the imagination And while I sometimes found the romanticism of Harris writing to be a bit indulgent, I decided to submit to it as an honest expression of her own sense of wonderWe savoured nubs of chocolate all the sweeter for their smallness as the sun sank behind the mountains, and when it was too dark to read birdflight into speech any, even the silence was like something winged As the sun rose it tugged gold out of the ground and tossed it everywhere, letting the land s innate wealth loose from a disguise of dust Just another night on the Silk Road, with silence settling over the fields and the crickets resuming their own strange incantations, spells that conjured beads of dew from blades of grass and lulled us to sleep under a smoke of stars. When Harris was at Oxford, she focussed on the history of science, and in particular, was interested in the Siachen Glacier in the Himalayas a region of Kashmir claimed by both India and Pakistan which is not only the world s highest battleground, but has become the world highest and biggest garbage dump It was such places of fuzzy and disputed borders along the Silk Road like the Aksai Chin Tibetan by cultural heritage, Indian by treaty claim, and Chinese by possession , or the Nagorno Karabakh Autonomous Oblate majority Armenian population, claimed by Azerbaijan because of imposed Soviet era borderlines that Harris and Yule sought out along the way, and because they had secured some funding for their trip from wilderness conservation groups, they meet up with local experts and guides periodically to discuss those species who choose to ignore mankind s imaginary boundaries This kind of anti nationalism becomes the undercurrent of the narrative, and along with other progressive truisms I don t know about calling out North America and Western Europe as the world s biggest contributors to climate change while on a road that straddles India and China , there s an anti capitalist bent to Harris desire to avenge her childhood ideal of explorers as quoted in the first passage It was the adventure tales of Charles Darwin and Marco Polo that had first sparked Harris wanderlust when she was a child, but as an adult, she learned that all her idols had feet of clay Charles Darwin suffered a pitiable withdrawal from wonder as he spent his later years close to home, churning his data in theory turns out, Marco Polo was never a true explorer, just a greedy capitalist who was looking for trade routes the Wright Brothers gained the sky but sold their plane to the highest bidding military a fact Harris had taken in at Oxford like a knife to the heart Even the astronauts who once so inspired Harris were never sent on missions of pure exploration Astronauts rave about how they can t see any borders from low Earth orbit, yet the whole enterprise of space exploration is fuelled by a rabid nationalism The same loyalty that sparked the Cold War also launched humans to the moon How does cynical ambition, the capacity for mutually assured destruction, give rise to something as wondrous as a stroll on the Sea of TranquilityMy natural inclination has been to push back against someone who uses her position within the wealth and stability of western civilisation to attempt to tear down that civilisation, but Harris has studied and seen than I ever will and I find myself unwilling to criticise her conclusions too harshly if Harris can really see a way towards easing deadly border disputes through cooperative conservation efforts, power to her Ride far enough and the road becomes strange and unknown to you Ride a little farther and you become strange and unknown to yourself, not to mention your travelling companion. Ultimately, beyond the political, this journey reads as one of self discovery for Kate Harris For anyone who was enchanted by, say, Cheryl Strayed s Wild, I would say read Land of Lost Borders it s serious and reflective, better written, and challenging of worldviews I loved this book, cover to cover. This book was phenomenal Filled with imagery that transports you across continents and historical knowledge that flings you through time, Harris delightful if saddle sore journey through Asia s ancient Silk Road will make you swear to take your own trip And swear off it on the next page Freezing weather, rain, snow, terrifying traffic, washboard roads when there were roads at all , an eternity of living on instant noodles, instant coffee, and instant oatmeal Harris manages to communicate her deep joy and gratitude for this experience, for every bleak vista she cycles by, while not holding back her about exhaustion, aching muscles, illnesses, and fear of detention travelling through countries with restrictive and byzantine tourism policies In every line her brilliant writing and lyrical imagery shines through, carrying you along with her on the back of her bicycle I feel truly privileged to have gotten a chance to read this book pre release, having won it in a draw, and I highly recommend it to any fans of travel writing looking for new lands to explore Coming to a bookstore near you in January 2018.