Given my fairly standard level of apple enthusiasm, I didn’t expect to have much of a reaction to Rowan Jacobsen’s Apples of Uncommon Character. I’d flipped through it a couple of times before and noticed that it really is a gorgeous book, but I hadn’t bothered to actually read any of the text. A mistake. Because, yes, this book is pretty. It’s a top-notch physical object, with its lovely cloth binding, glossy pages, and beautiful photographs. But what it really has going for it, like most great books, are its words. And when I finally got around to actually reading them, well, I couldn’t stop. Reading them. Aloud. To everyone I know.
A couple of random examples (only a couple—I’m restraining myself):
“Seemingly designed by a team of lab technicians and focus groups, Honeycrisp doesn’t crunch like normal crisp apples; it shatters in your mouth like an apple-flavored Cheeto.”
“Granite Beauty is like the Charles Bukowski of the apple world. It gives the feeling of a dissolute existence brought on by life too deeply felt. The network of pale scarring across the surface, as if you were viewing the Badlands from a plane; the strangely oily skin; the air of noble ruin; Mickey Rourke will play it in the film adaptation.”
“It is tart and tangy with a mysterious bit of archaic funk, like the yeasty smell in the cupboards of your grandparents’ summer home.”
Apples of Uncommon Character is overflowing with gems like these. Obviously, Rowan Jacobsen knows how to turn a phrase. He’s written a book about apples, but you don’t have to care about apples to love it. You only have to care about words. Just don’t be surprised if, by the end, you find yourself caring about apples a little bit, too.