Book Review: Finding Katya

Happy New Year!

I always think about travelling at the start of a New Year – real and armchair travelling! So, I’m so pleased to kick off 2024 with a book review for a book that ticked off both two of my loves – wanderlust armchair travelling and a good read to boot. “Finding Katya” by Katie R Aune is part memoir and part travelogue .


Finding Katya is the inspiring and compelling story of one woman who ditches everything to embark on an unconventional adventure through the former Soviet Union.

On her 35th birthday, Katie Aune was at a crossroads. Still reeling from a difficult breakup and longing to find more meaning in her life, she hopped on a one-way flight to start a year-long journey of discovery. Once a Russian and East European Studies major in college, Aune plotted a course that would take her through all 15 states of the former Soviet Union.

In a book that is part memoir, part travelogue, Aune takes readers along as she discovers places that are far off the typical tourist track, from riding the Trans-Siberian Railway across Russia and taking a cargo ferry from Ukraine to Georgia, to volunteering in Tajikistan and camping in the desert of Turkmenistan. Faced with the vulnerability of traveling solo through unfamiliar lands, she shakes off her insecurities, embraces the unknown and realizes that each journey is worthwhile, even if it doesn’t go as planned.

ISBN-13: 979-8988365907


Print length: 286 Pages


Obviously Katie’s journey took place before the Ukraine/Russia conflict – embarking on such a journey over the last year or so would be unwise. There’s some sort of mystique still about the former USSR and I have read books about similar journeys – such as The Amur River by Colin Thubron. Katie’s book takes travelling in the former states of USSR to a different angle – this is a female solo trip. She teaches English in Russian households, she faces hostility from macho Russian men on the cargo ferry, she finds love, and her experiences most definitely have not been sugarcoated. As I read her book, my emotions were like a yo-yo… I enjoyed her ups, envied the sights she saw, laughed at some situations and was concerned at others. A great, refreshing read.


Katie R. Aune is a recovering tax attorney who has worked in nonprofit and higher ed fundraising for more than a decade while also dabbling in travel blogging and writing. Despite not traveling overseas for the first time until she was 25, she has been to nearly 70 countries and all seven continents. Born and raised in Minnesota, Katie is currently based in Washington, D.C. and has a habit of rooting for sports teams that find ways to lose in devastating fashion.

You can find her online at:







All photographs have been published with the kind permission of Katie R Aune.

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