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The Fruit Hunters: A Story of Nature, Adventure, Commerce, and Obsession

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  833 Ratings  ·  162 Reviews
Delicious, lethal, hallucinogenic and medicinal, fruits have led nations to war, fueled dictatorships and lured people into new worlds. An expedition through the fascinating world of fruit, The Fruit Hunters is the engrossing story of some of Earth's most desired foods.

In lustrous prose, Adam Leith Gollner draws readers into a Willy Wonka-like world with mangoes that tas
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ebook, 288 pages
Published May 20th 2008 by Scribner (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Petra Eggs
I have my doubts about the writing of this book, its supposed to be about people who go out looking for new fruits and their stories. Language, noughties' slang, like "two cougars" to describe women strikes a jarring note.

I have several fruits in my garden, or at least the bit of rainforest that is accessible the rest being too difficult and bushy to penetrate, that I do not have more than local names for. Sweet water, the pod of a tree with amazingly-perfumed flowers, that is like sucking cotto
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jeremy
adam leith gollner's the fruit hunters is a delectable, alluring glimpse into the realm of fruit, pomology, and the sweet obsession it seems to engender in so many. rather comprehensive in scope, gollner's book focuses on myriad aspects of the fruit world, beginning with the definitional, historical, and cultural. with some 70,000 to 80,000 different edible fruit-bearing plant species, it is dumbfounding to consider that "most of our food comes from only twenty crops."

gollner goes on to explore
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Knitography
Nov 20, 2009 Knitography rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
I found this book incredibly frustrating. The subject matter is fascinating and the author clearly did a great deal of research. The book is absolutely packed with interesting facts about a seemingly endless variety of fruits, not to mention a wacky cast of characters - the fruit hunters - who are obsessed with fruit.

Unfortunately, in his effort to include as many facts and people in the book as possible, the author has completely neglected any kind of organization or narrative flow. I rarely ab
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Naomi
Feb 23, 2008 Naomi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Justin
I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but I received an ARC of this book from the publisher and started to flip through the first few pages. It turned into a fascinating read!

This book makes me want to travel to far-away places just to eat exotic fruits. And it make me incredibly annoyed at the paltry selection that we have here in the United States. Why don't we have the ice cream bean fruit? Why are we denied the miracle fruit? And who knew there are over 1,000 types of banana, some tasting like
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Jill
Mar 15, 2011 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just wish I hadn't read it in the winter, because all those glorious exotic fruits are NOT to be had in New England in December and I wanted to try them all! Fun, fun read (great narrator on the audiobook). Starts slow but I'm so glad I stuck with it.

I adore these "world history via a specific subject" books, and this is so much more. It's a very personalized story of the (journalist) author's investigations (sometimes TOO personal: What's up with the random R-rated moments among stuff like the
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Craig
Jan 14, 2012 Craig rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is, in a word, overwritten. Never one to forgo an adjective, or to use a simple verb when an ornate one will do, the author prefers sentences like, "Islets ringed with white sand merge into turquoise translucence." Landscapes "burst" with craters. Describing a situations where neighbors complained about the smell from a fruit he was eating, he writes, "Durian vapors were moseying down the hall." Later, he doesn't just visit the heart of the durian kingdom, he visits its pulsating heart ...more
Lizz
Jun 04, 2009 Lizz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I started the Fruit Hunters with some trepidation. It sounded like an interesting book, but the cover looked old fashioned and I was prepared to find a Farmers Almanac, rather than an exciting look into exotic fruit.

I completely misjudged The Fruit Hunters. While there were a few chapters that weren't as interesting as most of the chapters, it made me want to journey to far away locations to sample cloud berries. And fruit that proves that God has a sense of humor, the coco de mer is a fruit th
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Laurie DeVecca
Jun 10, 2015 Laurie DeVecca rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This should have been a good book, but it felt like the author was too concerned about appearing hip, or perhaps was insecure abut his topic choice....his word choice and digressions were annoying, not clever. Very disappointing.
Heather Denkmire
My daughter suggested I should maybe stop reading the "no no no" books because it keeps affecting my life choices in fairly dramatic ways. She's joking, though, because she (like me) appreciates knowing about ways we may be damaging or helping the earth (that's the larger issue we were talking about).

I enjoyed this book on several levels, mostly because of the luscious invitation to appreciate real fruit (fresh from the tree, vine, plant). It has ruined my experience of the produce section of th
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Paul
This was interesting enough and certainly made me want to eat more fresh exotic fruits, but just reminding me that fresh exotic fruits exists is enough to make me want to eat them. I wasn't surprised to see that the author was a former editor of Vice magazine - my impression of Vice is that the pieces are all in this "travelogue" style where the author inserts themselves into the story and tries to make it all about big personalities. This book is certainly in that style. I suggest discounting a ...more
Elizabeth
Fascinating topic, clumsy execution. Like many other books of its kind, The Fruit Hunters takes a seemingly mundane object and exposes the history, science, politics, and personalities behind it. While Gollner's research and dedication are admirable, his book is wildly overcrowded. While each chapter ostensibly has a single topic, the jumble of science, travelogue, interview, and introspection is dense and sometimes boring. There's an interesting, focused book in here somewhere, but you have to ...more
Joan
reading for Slow Food book group; slower going than I thought, plus I thought it was going to be more about Florida as we're into local foods. hope I'm wrong and need to revise as get further into book.

UPDATE: It got worse ! It might have been a good long New Yorker essay but it read as if he googled " banana" and then wrote a sentence each re each item found. Plus it never ceased to be about him including men having sex with fruit and dangers of microwaving melons for this practice.

Very curio
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Kelly B
Sep 20, 2012 Kelly B rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting subject, but too many little niggling errors and biases (e.g. "no one wants to eat a raspberry picked with metal fingers". One assumes the author didn't poll "everyone" before writing that).

Lots of opinions offered up as facts, and with nary a citation to be found. Yes, there is a further reading section, but no citation for any of the facts the author presents.
Jenny McDonald
This has a lot of interesting facts and anecdotes, but you could tear the pages apart and read them in any order. The lack of logical order or narrative structure kind of made it a drag to finish.
Kate
May 14, 2016 Kate rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book on unusual fruit and the unusual people who are passionate about finding them. It was interesting but not in depth enough, I got tired of it and didn't read the final chapter.
Alisha Bennett
Well....Gollner should consider me generous in rounding up a half star. The fact is, I should have loved and devoured this book. Instead, Gollner committed the cardinal sin of frustrating the reader. The writing is uneven and disorganized; beating the reader over the head with a list of facts tends to quickly inure them the information; thereby losing all sense of wonder. He seems almost afraid to delve deeply until at least halfway through the book. Need I point out that a book about fruits mos ...more
Jennifer Christie
Feb 28, 2017 Jennifer Christie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read. Lots of interesting detail. Worth your time.
Pedro García
Feb 24, 2017 Pedro García rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Me costó un poco entrar, pero finalmente me ha gustado. Historias sobre fruta y sobre buscadores de frutas y frutos
Jen
Jun 18, 2017 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this! Hits the sweet spot of interest, detail, and accessibility. Definitely fanned the fire for my love of produce 🙂
Kristin
Mar 18, 2017 Kristin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was surprisingly great - I mean, a book about FRUIT? But seriously it was fantastic.
Jojo
Jan 11, 2017 Jojo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: info-books
The coverage was enough to get the reader excited about the world of fruit , but was delivered too broad. Visiting different countries and visualizing it was amazing but was not necessary to visualize everything that was not... by the end the information was a bit dull and repetitive. Still the information provided was enough to satisfy the taste buds.
Liz
So here is my thing with this book. I picked it up because I was interested in learning more about the wide variety of exotic fruits that aren't available to us here in the United States. And I did learn a little bit about that, but not as much as I would have liked. The author sort of meanders around talking about some different types of fruit here and there, some anecdotes about a crazy person he met who is into fruit, then he goes on for awhile about how this fruit isn't available in the U.S. ...more
Maria
Aug 03, 2009 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This book was a gift from my daughter, who knows how much I like fruit. It has always been a mystery to me why some people eat so little of it, until I remind myself that I eat very little in the way of vegetables, which would probably puzzle those very people who don't eat much fruit. At any rate, the book was an eye-opener. I had no idea how many fruits and fruit variations there are in the world. It is almost depressing, since I know I will never get to sample most of them. On the other hand, ...more
Kay
This took me an inordinately long time to read, considering that on the whole I quite enjoyed it. I think this may have been due in part to an organizational problem -- the book didn't seem to have a particular direction or focus. Instead, it seemed that the author was cramming everything he learned about fruit (and that was a considerable amount) into the book, willy-nilly. The author delights in long (very long) lists of fruits, places, cultivars, and characteristics. It's a bit of an onslaugh ...more
Spencer
Oct 24, 2014 Spencer rated it really liked it
I have been somewhat of an exotic fruit hunter since I was a little kid. Whenever I went to the grocery store with my mom, there were limits on everything except produce. I could have as much of I wanted of whatever I wanted, so naturally, I had mom buy everything I had never seen before. I am constantly on the lookout for rare fruits, and consistently trying to foist them on other people. Naturally, this book was right up my alley. I liked the descriptions of ultra-exotics -- where the come fro ...more
Kris
Mar 07, 2012 Kris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most of the reviews of this book complain about the writing style of the author, but they end up giving it 4 stars. This is the kind of book that gives you a little bit of info on a lot of topics attached to a central theme. I enjoyed the writing, the subject matter, and it got me a lot more interested in seeking out exotic fruits and varieties.

Another complaint that doesn't seem to shed stars is that the book doesn't get its facts straight. I know that can be annoying when you read something i
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Camille
Wow! Talk about working up an appetite from reading a book!

Fruit Hunters is full of mouthwatering and/or eye-candy descriptions of rare (or just foreign) fruit and profiles of fruit cultivators, collectors and downright obsessors (Not really a word, but eh!). These bits are congealed together by the adventures of Adam Leith Gollner's as he sets out to find the fruits and their friends.

I've never really been a big fruit eater. I love vegetables. Savory over sweet for me. But this book gave me a
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Jacqueline Boss
Feb 27, 2015 Jacqueline Boss rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Almost unbearable to read because of the writing style. Entire paragraphs and pages were lists of thoughts or facts that were not expanded on beyond a single sentence. Fruit was extremely sexualized to the point of becoming a bizarre fetish in every single chapter- you can't go more than a handful of pages without reading about how some fruit looks like genitalia, is sexy, erotic, smells like musky sex, or that someone has literally been brought to orgasm by or had sex with it. I could see a few ...more
Ross
Nov 22, 2008 Ross rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food-politics
This is a rambling and often fascinating book. The fascination comes from the fact that the world of fruit is immensely vast. Tthere are apparently around 70,000 plant species that bear edible fruit, even though we tend to know about maybe two dozen from the grocery store. Make that three or four dozen in a good produce store. So, there are plenty of stories about exotic fruit explorers, "ultra-exotic" fruit lovers, and, naturally, exotic fruit smugglers. There is also an entire chapter on the c ...more
Diane
May 02, 2011 Diane rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
I love fruit and I live in a sort of fruit heaven so I had every expectation of enjoying this book. It starts out with pages (or in my case tracks since I was listening to it on disk) of laundry lists of tidbits of information about fruit. It seemed like the author wanted to be sure to include every single thing he had learned in his research on fruit and had made no attempt to put it in any order - just listing of information. I would have stopped listening but I was driving back from Portland ...more
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Adam Leith Gollner is the author of The Book of Immortality and The Fruit Hunters.

He has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, The Guardian, the Globe and Mail, Saveur, Good, and Lucky Peach, among others.

He used to be Editor of Vice Magazine and also played in a number of bands. He lives in Montreal.
More about Adam Leith Gollner...

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“As Marshall McLuhan pointed out, we've become so removed from reality that we're starting to prefer artificiality.” 8 likes
“The playwright Edward Albee has characterized [the suddenness of the appearance of fruits and flowers in evolutionary history] as 'that heartbreaking second when it all got together: the sugars and the acids and the ultraviolets, and the next thing you knew there were tangerines and string quartets.” 7 likes
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