3 4 Friday - Sugar, Shakespeare and Plumed Shakos. How *are* those new year's resolutions going?

Ah, new year's resolution. By now you should be well into the new routine (it takes three weeks to form a habit - or so they say) or it's a dim and distant memory (like the rest of Christmas). Either way, for today's 3 4 Friday #fridayreads we've three inspirational books to help you keep up the good work - or inspire you all over again to restart.

There is a big backlash going on against the amount of sugar that's put in our food (largely because of this video that went viral a few years ago), and in 'I Quit Sugar' self-confessed Australian sugar addict Sarah Wilson documents her own battle to reduce - and then eliminate - the estimated 25 teaspoons of sugar she ate or drank every day. It's part recipe book, part diary of a recovering addict - and even if you are not up for removing all sugar from your diet, it's packed with healthy eating suggestions and alternatives.

(If you don't feel ready for some of the more extreme measures to ween yourself off the white stuff, then take a look at 'Sweet Poison' by David Gillespie, to learn some of the uncomfortable truths linking sugar, modern food production and obesity).

Ever fancied researching your family history? Acclaimed author Nicolas Shakespeare did just that, but after stumbling on a cache of documents and photographs, his research took a darker turn. Shakespeare had been brought up to believe, as did the rest of his family, that his mother's half-sister Priscilla, a glamorous, enigmatic figure married (somewhat improbably) to a bad-tempered mushroom farmer and living in Sussex, had spent the war in terrified hiding in occupied France, much of the time incarcerated in a concentration camp.

Shakespeare's gripping new book 'Priscilla' is the result of his forensic researches into Priscilla's years in occupied France. They reveal experiences and choices that sit somewhat awkwardly among these stories of ordinary people's courage under fire.

And what about improving your understanding of world events? We can thoroughly recommend the paperback release of 'Return of A King', William Dalrymple's masterful account of the experience of the British Army fighting in Afghanistan, that ended in violent rebellion and ultimately humiliation...in 1839.

Dalrymple's style is one of page-turning, storytelling brilliance - drawing out subtly the parallels to more recent conflicts without losing his sight on the historical details of this momentous nineteenth century conflict.

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