Posted by Nat Bernstein
One of my very favorite Jewish holiday traditions is coming up: beflowering one’s home for Shavuot! Owing to a midrash that Mount Sinai spontaneously blossomed into flower with the transmission of the Torah at its top, a lovely (but often overlooked) custom emerged of decorating homes and even synagogues with visually and fragrantly appealing flora. And what better way to declare the spring is here?
With floral arrangements to be made, this is the perfect week to revisit Stephan Buchmann’s delightful book The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives—now available in paperback! Trust me, the content is as enticing as the book cover — which is even more glorious in textured hard copy than the striking image you see above. One of my favorite nonfiction reads in the last year and likely the best book on flowers I’ve encountered yet, Buchmann’s approach blends beauty with science, sociology, and good writing. Beyond accessible, The Reason for Flowers is an engaging and enjoyable read, packed with fascinating knowledge about the plants around us.
Nat Bernstein is the former Manager of Digital Content & Media, JBC Network Coordinator, and Contributing Editor at the Jewish Book Council and a graduate of Hampshire College.