The crisp days of autumn are here. Curling up under a warm, hand-knitted shawl to enjoy a biography of Handel while also tucking into a delicious bourbon eggnog sounds like a recipe for a perfect fall afternoon.

George Frederic Handel: A Life with Friends, Ellen T. Harris; Norton Books, September 2014, $37.95, 472 pages.

MIT music professor Ellen T. Harris’s latest examination of Handel’s life offers a layered, nuanced approach to the man who gave the world the English-language oratorio Messiah, a composition most people associate with Christmas. Instead of simply detailing Handel’s life and work, Harris has taken a wholly different approach to biography by examining Handel through his friendships. Handel’s will, diaries, letters, and even court cases flesh out the life of a man whose circle included major political, legal and religious figures of the day. More than just a biography of a great composer, Harris’ eminently readable book recreates the exciting world of 18th century London.

The Spinner’s Book of Fleece: A Breed-by-Breed Guide to Choosing and Spinning the Perfect Fiber for Every Purpose, Beth Smith; Storey Publications, September 2014, $29.95, 244 pages.

Spinners of all abilities will find Beth Smith’s comprehensive guide to fleece and sheep breeds an indispensable tool for every wooly project. Cheery yet thoroughly meticulous, Smith lays out how much fleece to buy, dealing with carpet beetles, and most importantly, which breeds produce what type of wool. Complete with a glossary of terms, metric conversions, a detailed bibliography, even USDA standard wool specifications, this is an all-in-one reference guide that will surely find repeated use. Warm, fuzzy close-up photographs of various sheep species are the perfect textual accompaniment. 

Bourbon Desserts, Lynn Marie Hulsman; University Press of Kentucky, September 2014. $19.95, 240 pages.

There are more than seventy-five Bourbon-flavored recipes in a cookbook dedicated to this complex, rich and unique spirit. From decadent bourbon fudge cake to watermelon julep pops, there’s a dessert in here to suit all sorts of boozy tastes. Food writer Lynn Marie Hulsman shares charming anecdotes about growing up in Kentucky alongside the recipes for her mouthwatering confections. The mere thought of adding bourbon to baked goods may be daunting, but the concoctions here are relatively simple and will make a big splash at any fall function. Still not sure? Try one of the  recipes in the following post for Bourbon-sugared pecans or Bourbon whipped cream; they’ll change your mind in one barrel-aged minute. 

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