Brian Croxall from Emory University is here to give you his best advice on how to hit the books! Brian Croxall

Q: What genre do you recommend people explore?

A: Poetry. But rather than just one poem from one author and one from another as we read so often in school, I suggest that people read an entire book of poems by one author. I’d recommend one “Thrall” by U.S. Poet Laureate and Emory faculty member Natasha Trethewey.

Q: What are your favorite books released this year?

A: One of my favorites is Thomas Pynchon’s “Bleeding Edge,” a tale of the dot-com bust and 9/11.

Q: What titles will teens enjoy?

A: As a young teenager, I was obsessed with Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain and Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising Sequence. Both are classic fantasy tales, but with less wizards than personal growth. China Mieville’s “Railsea” is a more recent novel that should grab teens. I also recommend Scott Westerfeld and Philip Reeve for those interested in smart young adult fiction.

Q: What is your favorite book? 

A: Mark Z. Danielewski’s “House of Leaves.” It is about a house that is larger on the inside than out, and it is the scariest novel I’ve ever read.

Q: How can someone pick a winner in the bookstore? 

A: Ask a bookstore employee! They really do know what they’re talking about!


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Jessica Shops Pick of the Month 

Summer Camping 

family camping


Spend some quality time discovering the great outdoors this summer at one of Georgia’s beautiful state parks. Enjoy hiking, boating, picnicking, camping, fishing, golfing and so much more. It’s one of the best kept lodging secrets with rates starting as low as $80 per night. Plus, save 50 percent off regular rates at the following campsites through August 28, 2014: Florence Marina, General Coffee, Gordonia-Alatamaha, Kolomoki Mounds, Magnolia Springs, Reed Bingham, Stephen C. Foster and Seminole.

To redeem the deal, use promo code SUMMER50% when making your reservations. 

For more info on Jessica, visit


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Cassie Young

The Bert Show’s Cassie Young

As July comes to an end, I invite you to think about how many times you’ve had a negative thought about your body pop into your mind this summer. If you’re like many Americans, whose minds and eyes are saturated by messages of physical perfection, you may have had more negative thoughts than you can count. Even if you think of yourself as someone with a healthy body image, you may still have had a little twinge of anxiety about putting on a bathing suit and baring it all to your fellow beach goers.

Well this summer, local radio personality Cassie Young, the social media director of Q100’s The Bert Show, wants you to stop worrying. Even more than that, she wants you to consciously start changing those negative thoughts into positive ones by posting a photo of yourself in a bathing suit on social media with the hashtag #SuitYourself. This social media campaign began last year, and Cassie’s continuing its positive message through this summer. I spoke with her recently about the initiative, and her passion was clear. “We’re our own harshest critics, and we see ourselves through a really critical lens. You feel like you have to live up to those Photoshop ideals,” she says. Instead of stressing about it, she says, “The point is to be happy with who you are and what you have.” To do that, everyone is encouraged to post their unfiltered #SuitYourself images along with a statement of something you love about yourself.

Cassie Young #SuitYourself 1

Cassie suiting herself with acceptance and happiness this summer

Self-love and self-acceptance weren’t always easy for her, Cassie admits as she recalls a memory from fifth grade. “I remember putting on a pair of jeans at the Gap, and they were size 5 – I think they were a kids’ size. I was so happy, and I remember going into class the next day and talking about that. Then the really pretty, really popular, gorgeous girl in my class goes, ‘Ugh, you’re a size five? I am a zero.’ That’s when I went on the scale, and I swore I would never get above a hundred pounds. I started counting calories, and then I would hate myself if I ate something like a chili cheeseburger – if I lived a normal life, I would feel awful about myself.”

Her story sounds familiar to many of us, but through #SuitYourself, we can start to refocus our attention on acceptance and positivity toward food and toward our own bodies. Cassie reminds us, “Just straight up who you are is perfect. Everyone is different, and that’s what makes humanity so interesting.” And with that truth in mind, she encourages everyone to join this social media campaign and start embracing themselves just as they are.

What are you waiting for? Post your #SuitYourself images on our Facebook wall, or tweet them to @BestSelfAtlanta, @TheBertShow or @CassandraYoung!

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With more than 30 years of styling under her belt, Teri Claiborne, from Claiborne’s Salon and Spa, knows a thing or two about summer hair survival. Here, she dishes on five sure-fire ways to hydrate, protect and fortify your tresses through the most sizzling summer months.

Teri Claiborne

Give it a Break: Your hair undergoes enough heat as it is during the summer months. Commit to giving your hair a few days off from blow-drying and heat styling each week. Instead, try some of the season’s casual braids, buns and ponytails. Just be sure to opt for hair accessories that gently hold the hair, like a thicker, cloth elastic versus a rubber band.Summer Hair

Oil Up: Natural oils, like coconut, avocado and macadamia nut oil, don’t contain silicone like a lot of conditioners, so they absorb into each hair strand instead of sitting on the surface. To fortify dry tresses, once a week, mix a teaspoon of one of these oils with your conditioner and leave on for five minutes before rinsing. Integrating foods with fatty acids in them, like fish, nuts and seeds, into your diet will work the same magic on your hair from the inside as well.

Put a Cap on it: A physical barrier between your hair and the sun’s rays is better than any SPF on the market. Maintain your hair’s moisture, color and overall health by wearing a hat, preferably one with a rim that goes all the way around.

Keep it Trim: Feel like your hair is growing faster than ever? It’s not just in your head. More of your hairs are in the growing stage during late spring and summer than in the dead of winter. To keep split ends at bay and to keep your style fresh, increase the frequency of your haircuts to once every four weeks.summer hair

Make Friends with Moisture: Give your hair added hydration by switching to a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner for the summer. For fine hair, just make sure that you choose a product that isn’t too heavy, as it can weigh down your hair. Also, consider alternating a moisturizing conditioner with your regular conditioner if it’s still too heavy.

DetailsClaiborne’s Salon and Spa, 1420 Terrell Mill Rd SE, Marietta, GA,

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Vegas in AtlantaSkip the plan ticket to Vegas – just head over to Center Stage for a show worthy of the strip! On August 7, catch the 90-minute Clubesque event, which features a sassy night of modern cabaret. The performers include Clubesque creator Sunni Stephens, host Kyle Collins, burlesque artist Perle Noire and Lips Atlanta regular Gia Sunflowers. book your tickets now for the 7:30 or 10 p.m. show, or catch the last night on September 4. Tickets start at $28.

Details:  1374 West Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA, 

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Dr. Harvey “Chip” Cole, III, from Oculus Plastic Surgery, answers a reader’s question about what procedures can make the eyes look better.

Dr Harvey Cole


Q: What procedures can make my eyes look better? 

A: With simple procedures like modern fractional laser and laser blepharoplasty, you can enhance your eyes by improving mild wrinkles, or you can simply “find” your eyes again by removing excess skin. Every millimeter of skin matters around the delicate eye tissues, so always use an expert. Also, procedures to correct heavy lids may be covered by insurance when those lids affect your side vision.

Do you have questions for our doctors? If so, please email them to 

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Pam Morton, director of The Book Festival of the MJCCA, is here to give you her best advice about how to hit the books this summer.

Pam Morton


Q: What genre do you recommend people explore?

A: Humor is always fun – I love a book that makes me laugh out loud! Authors such as David Sedaris, Annabelle Gurwitch, Carol Leifer and Chelsea Handler write some of the funniest essays around.

Q: What are your favorite books released this year? 

A: “Blood Will Out” by Walter Kirn, “The Invention of Wings” by Sue Monk Kidd and “Andrew’s Brain” by E.L. Doctorow.

Q: What is your favorite book?

A: That’s like asking a mother which one of her children she loves the most! Two of my all-time favorite  titles are “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson and “A Prayer for Owen Meany” by John Irving.

Q: Do you prefer to read physical books or e-books? 

A: I read both physical books and books on my Kindle, iPad and on my iPhone with the Kindle and iBook apps. I read digitally when I am traveling or don’t want to carry around a heavy book.

Q: How do you pick a great book? 

A: There are several excellent blogs and e-newsletters that I read weekly:,,, and I also listen to author interviews on NPR’s “Fresh Air.”

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Rowbot Fitness instructor Charles Anderson and Crew Member Stephen Ebbett challenged themselves to break two ultra-long distance world records to raise money for Open Hand Atlanta and Kidney Research UK. They set out to break the Longest Continuous Row and the Fastest to 1 Million Meters records, and accomplished both. Best Self caught up with Charles to hear how the row went, and how he and Stephen prepared for such a feat.

The Big Row

Celebration after Stephen and Charles complete the row

How long were you each able to row?

I rowed 541,700 meters and Stephen rowed 458,300 meters.

How long did it take to row the 1 million meters?

89:19:09.8 hours. I rowed for 45 hours, Stephen rowed for 44:19:09.8 hours.

What was your favorite part of this record-breaking charity event?

The response from the community (both online and offline) was incredible. We had people bringing us food during the entire event, and hanging out or rowing with us constantly. It was great. The online community also really rallied for us, sending us messages from around the world as they watched our online stream.

How much were you able to raise for Open Hand Atlanta and Kidney Research UK?

We raised $2000 for Open Hand Atlanta, and $5600 for Kidney Research UK.

How did you choose these two charities to help out?

I wanted to pick a local charity that focused on people’s health and well-being, and Open Hand is a great example of that. Stephen chose Kidney Research UK as a tribute to his father who is fighting kidney disease.

How did you prepare for the row?

Rowing. Lots and lots of rowing. In addition, we also did a lot of very planned carb-loading the week before.  We both gained eight to ten pounds to help protect our bodies during the long exertion.

Was it any more or less challenging than you expected it to be?

In some ways it was more challenging, because it is impossible to understand how long you have to sit down and do it, other than just sitting down and rowing for that long. But, in other ways a lot of the coordination pieces fell into place perfectly, and we had so much help during the event, that it was much easier to keep rowing and not worry about the small stuff.

Are there any other records you have your eye on breaking?

We’ve always got our eyes peeled for the next challenge, and I always have some crazy idea brewing, but nothing we want to lay claim to… yet.

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Garron Gore from Smokebelly BBQ is here to give his advice on how to stock your bar for your summer bash. 

Garron GoreQ: How do the drinks at a party contribute to a great get-together? 

A: The bar creates a gathering point for people to chat, and let’s face it, once the libations are flowing, people open up and have more fun. 

Q: What’s special about summer drinks? 

A: Summer drinks are made to be light, refreshing and easily accessible. Keep them ice cold, use fresh citrus and keep them coming.

Q: What are some fun summer party themes?

A: Punches! Almost any cocktail can become a punch. Stick with the classics, using great ingredients, freshly squeezed juice and good quality ice. Plus, you can batch cocktails in advance, giving you more time to mingle with your guests.

Q: What are some tips to keep a party’s drink budget manageable?

 A: Keep it simple. Get your core liquor categories down and have fun with small batched of other ingredients such as Aperol, Chartreuse and a good quality vermouth. 

Q: If someone could pick only one drink for a party right now, what would you recommend? 

A: There is nothing better in the middle of summer than a properly made Last Word. It’s tart and full of citrus, with an underlying herbal quality. Mix 3/4 oz. gin, 3/4 oz. lime juice, 3/4 oz. maraschino cherry liquor and 3/4 oz. Green Chartreuse. Shake, strain and serve. 


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Dr. Carrie Lawson from Piedmont OB-GYN answers a reader’s question about Pap smears. 

Dr Carrie Lawson


Q: What is a Pap smear, and how often do women need them? 

A: A Pap smear is a screening test for cervical cancer and pre-cancer, most often caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). We recommend the test every two to three years for women in their 20s beginning at age 21, and every three to five years, along with HPV co-testing, for age 30 to 65. Women over 65, or who have had a hysterectomy, usually no longer need to have the test, although they should continue to schedule an annual gynecological exam.  

Do you have questions for our doctors? If so, please email them to 

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