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3 Boundary-breaking Books Worth a Read

Across the globe, stories of lines drawn in the sand, dirt, ocean, and air populate the news, highlighting locations where planes cannot fly, boats cannot coast, and people may not enter based on their nationality. Those stories chronicle the human capacity for endurance, bravery, and bravado. So do these books, which all explore the idea of border-crossing — whether those borders mark countries on a map, the shifting demarcation of the world by water, or the emotional boundaries created by anger. This month, NEHA recommends the personal story of one woman’s bike ride across the borders of ancient empires, a journalist’s account of city boundaries changed by the environment, and a guide to everyday peace practices that could theoretically stop the course of future wars.


Lands of Lost Borders: A Journey on the Silk Road by Kate Harris

In her first book, Lands of Lost Borders, writer and explorer Kate Harris takes readers along with her and her best friend Melissa as they cycle on the ancient Silk Road, the trade route which, spanning over 4,000 miles, once connected the East with the West, from China to Italy. Harris grew up with the urge to see the world and dreamed of one day reaching Mars. In Lands of Lost Borders, she challenges the notion of modern borders through biology, scientific discovery, and history. As she passes through places like Chinese-controlled Tibet and Kashmir, the contested land between India and Pakistan, Harris compels readers to rethink the boundaries that divide our world.

Published by Dey Street Books, $24. Release date August 21.

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush

Little by little, our oceans rise and alter the American coastline. Higher seas, a result of climate change, have begun to alter the landscape of coastal cities such as Miami, New York City, and San Francisco. In Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore, author Elizabeth Rush introduces the people (and animals) impacted or displaced by recent environmental shifts. As a journalist, Rush reported from places around the globe and has written for The Washington Post, Harper’s, and The Guardian. In Rising, she weaves the narratives of individuals with information provided by scientists and activists to tell the full story of the American coastline. In the wake of climate-change deniers and the U.S. government’s rejection of global environmental agreements, Rush provides an undeniable account of global warming’s dire consequences.

Published by Milkweed Editions, $19.54.

Practicing Peace by Pema Chödrön

With political unrest, acts of mass violence, and the displacement of refugees constantly in the news, many feel disappointed in today’s society and helpless to make positive change. In Practicing Peace, Pema Chödrön explains how Buddhist teachings can help individuals make peace with themselves and others, which, on a larger scale, could bring greater harmony to the world. “War begins when we harden our hearts, and we harden them easily — in minor ways and then in quite serious, major ways, such as hatred and prejudice,” writes Chödrön. “We can talk about ending war and we can march for ending war, we can do everything in our power, but war is never going to end as long as our hearts are hardened against each other.” Perfect for travel, this pocket-sized book leads readers to confront and control their own anger to hopefully create a new global culture of compassion.

Published by Shambhala, $12.95. Release date August 14.


Banner photo by John Jones.

Lindsey Sabado has bachelor’s degrees in history and English and a minor in education. Sabado is a contributing writer at and is pursuing a career in education reporting.