Young-adult novel Love and First Sight, by Josh Sundquist, is a heartwarming and quick read, but the subject matter will leave you with food for thought, too. Will Porter is a 16-year-old who was born blind and has spent his entire education at a school with other blind students. When he begins attending a mainstream school, he’s excited about the new opportunities—even when they come with challenges. Readers will appreciate that the emotional and romance storylines feel authentic and not like overblown teenage angst. Sundquist’s affirming approach to the realities of life is what really makes this novel stand out. Sighted readers will find themselves thinking about vision in an entirely different way, and feeling uplifted at the turn of that final page. —Raela Schoenherr
Raela Schoenherr is an editor at a Minnesota publishing company. She loves to talk books and writing on Twitter.
Perfect for fall weather is Pendleton whiskey. This is a hybrid product: Distilled in Canada, it’s a Canadian whiskey at heart. But after distillation, it is shipped, barrel-strength, to Hood River Distillers in Oregon, where it is aged in an oak barrel and finished with glacier-fed spring water from Mount Hood. It is incredibly smooth, weighing in at 80 proof. Predominantly rye, this has nice spicy notes to it, complemented by hints of vanilla from the barrels (no oak chips here). In my opinion, this one is best enjoyed on the rocks. $24.99. —Kevin Castellano
Kevin Castellano is the general manager of Wayzata Wine and Spirits and a lake-area wine and liquor expert.
If you were bummed that you didn’t find a great laid-back summer album this year, look no further than Mac DeMarco’s latest effort. The slacker prince of the indie world just released another handful of perfectly lackadaisical tracks, but This Old Dog feels much more serious than his previous works. Normally trying to shield his emotions behind the “class clown” façade, DeMarco opens up, with much of the record focusing on the absence of his father. The songs feature a synthesizer-based approach, with an acoustic guitar and drum machine also helping to set the mood. This album is bouncy and introspective. It also features much cleaner production overall, which should help widen the Canadian’s growing fan base. Mac DeMarco may break your heart, but he’ll write a sweet song apologizing for it. And he’s not afraid to let you know that he cries, too. Recommended for fans of Jimmy Buffett, Harry Nilsson and John Lennon. —Sean Schultz
Sean Schultz is a lifelong musician who enjoys consuming popular culture. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife, new baby and two dogs.