By Alexandra McCray

The largest independent book festival in the country is back in Decatur’s historic downtown square for its 10th year on Sept. 4-6. And since many festival goers are already avid readers, this year’s festival theme is #readdifferent. The idea behind the theme is to encourage book lovers to branch outside of their favorite writers, genres and types of literature.

This year’s keynote speaker will hopefully inspire festival attendees to step outside their comfort zone with a complex topic: feminism. Erica Jong, author of “Fear of Flying,”


which some say helped ignite second wave feminism, will have a conversation with Roxane Gay, author of the popular 2014 essay collection “Bad Feminist.”

The weekend isn’t made up of only challenging subjects, though. The festival will also feature a “kidnote” speaker for Atlanta’s younger book lovers to enjoy. This year it will be Judy Schachner, author and illustrator of the wildly popular “SkippyJon Jones” kids’ series.

The festival weekend will also include lectures and book signings from over 600 authors, author readings, panel discussions, live music, parades, cooking demonstrations, poetry slams, writing workshops and more. Visit for more details, and plan to #readdifferent this year.


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Figure competitor Latoya Wilkerson shares how House of Payne Personal Training has impacted all aspects of her life, from transforming her body, to building her self-confidence and helping her handle the stressors of work and life. She encourages those just starting their fitness journey to celebrate the small victories because it will all be worth it in the end.

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Kavu Bag

Each month, Best Self publisher Sherri Adair shares her favorite places, people and events from Atlanta. Here are her picks for the month of September: 

Kavu Tote – This Duffy style Kavu bag is the perfect size for the gym and overnight stays. It has just the right amount of pocket space, and its colorful, durable design makes it my fave. I got mine at High Country Outfitters. You can find Kavu bags Abbadabba’s and outdoor retailers around the city.

Details: 3906B Roswell Road, Atlanta, GA, (404) 814-0999,

intex rafting tube

Intex River Tube – Summer’s almost over, but the weather will be warm in Atlanta for quite a while longer. Some of the best days for tubing down the Chattahoochee with a good friend are still ahead of us! I highly recommend the Intex River Tube for Two. At $50.99, it is a bargain, and it’s the perfect size to fit two comfortably with a nice cooler in the middle for those cold beverages. Be sure to get the air compressor that goes with it, which inflates the tube in about 10 seconds.

Details: Available at Walmart and    

Taziki’s – High quality, clean, Mediterranean style food at a fair price. What’s not to love? The hummus is excellent, especially if you are not into a lot of garlic.tazikis

Details: 5610 Glenridge Dr #109, Sandy Springs, GA, (678) 365-4403,


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By Alexandra McCray

Whether you’re just dipping your toe into the world of juicing or you’re a long time devotee, you’ll be able to find something for you at the new Juice Bar in Virginia Highlands.


The second Atlanta Juice Bar location will officially open its doors on September 12 and will celebrate by offering half-price drinks, giveaways and tastings all day.

Featuring juices made with an assortment of local organic fruits and vegetables whimsically named things like We Got the Beet, Orange You Glad and Bunny Love, Juice Bar’s juices taste almost too good to be healthy. Each juice contains an average of six fruits and vegetables and can be customized to create thousands of combinations.

For fellow juice novices I recommend getting the Sweet Greens. Its apple, kale, spinach, cucumber, parsley and lemon combination strikes a strange balance between sweet and refreshing.  After tasting a sample whipped up by Juice Bar partner Susie Kelly (whose constant smile is almost as big as her excitement for the latest Juice Bar opening) I had to grab a full size to enjoy on the hot ride home.


Customers can also try a variety of juice cleanses and power shots. The shop even offers essential oil shots, which surprisingly don’t have an oil consistency. They promise to aid in everything from trimming your waistline to relieving allergies and curing the sniffles.

Always a fan of the local, Juice Bar will also stock its shelves with local wellness products such as Georgia Grinders Almond Butter, Golda Kombucha, Organic Mountains Gourmet Honey and Queen of Kale chips.

The Virginia Highlands location is the newest addition to I Love Juice Bar company started by John and Vui Hunt in 2013. The couple abandoned the corporate world to follow their passion for creating authentic, all-natural juices for communities everywhere.

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Heartfelt Fare_coverInside Atlanta real estate agent Joan Kaplan’s hand-bound cookbook, readers will find recipes, personal stories, and Kaplan’s fond memories of delicious meals. One favorite is “Backyard Bounty Figs ‘n Honey,” made with honey from her husband and daughter’s backyard beehive and figs foraged from generous neighbors. Proceeds from book sales at local stores and events will benefit The Kaplan Family Foundation, which supports Atlanta Hospital Hospitality House, Contribute2America and other local nonprofits. Visit for more details.


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Peanuts to Power_cover

Growing up as the son of a Southern sharecropper, former Georgia State Senator Charles W. Walker knew he was destined for more. His book reveals how he overcame adversity to build a successful career in business and politics, and he outlines how other Americans trapped in the poverty cycle can do the same.

Order a copy from for $26.

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Miller, MD, Scott_cred Jonathan Hollada

Dr. Scott Miller, from Georgia Urology, answers a reader’s question about water intake.

I’ve heard that people should drink eight glasses of water per day.  Is that true?

Even in Georgia – part of the “kidney stone belt” – 64 ounces of water (eight 8 oz. glasses) is usually beyond the amount needed for kidney stone prevention and overall health. The best indicator is the appearance of your urine: with the exception of your first morning urination, your urine should always appear very dilute or pale yellow. Of course, you should drink more fluids during times of exercise or heat exposure.

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Camille's Closet handbag image

The online boutique Camille’s Closet, which has an Atlanta showroom, will launch its first handbag collection this fall. The collection will feature a carryall tote, a cosmetic bag and a cross body clutch all featuring a high-quality vegan leather exterior and a vegan suede lining interior. Colors available include Sea Teal, Bronze Brown and Posh Plum.

Details: Showroom 659 Auburn Ave NE Ste G22 Atlanta, GA

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In his 2011 book “Folks, This Ain’t Normal,” organic farming pioneer Joel Salatin points out, “The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food?” Where indeed? Somehow humanity made it all the way to 1946 without a Publix or a Kroger down the road. He says, “Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.” This is the truth that the Best Self Atlanta team reconnected with when we volunteered at Truly Living Well, an urban farm in the heart of Downtown Atlanta that proves food still can – and probably should – come from your backyard.


As a group, we took a day off from office work and got down in the dirt together. Truly Living Well’s four-acre main garden on Hilliard Street was a beautiful tangle of summer green on the day we volunteered. Our tasks involved weeding among the kale, tomatoes, onions and more, scrubbing radishes to prepare them for market, and picking ripe plums. Though as a group we aren’t exactly seasoned farmers, instructions from our volunteer coordinator, Sara, set us off on the path to success. By the end of the afternoon, the raised beds were weed-free, the radishes clean, and the plums picked (and tasted!). We felt very accomplished, but it was clear: there’s always more work to be done on a farm. If you’d like to volunteer with Truly Living Well, either at the garden downtown or their other location in East Point, visit or email for more information.

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Best of 2015 RibbonEvery business will tell you they’re the best, so who can you really trust when it comes to picking a hair stylist, a primary care doctor or a new gym? Your fellow Atlantans, of course! That’s why for the third year in a row, we’re holding our “Best of 2015” contest so your voice can be heard. From September 1 to September 15, visit our website to nominate your favorite local places and people. Then stop by our Facebook page during October to vote for the nominees in every category from Best Yoga Studio to Best Massage Therapist and many more.


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