My Love of Books & Why the Bible is My Favorite
By David Craddock
What is a book? At first sight, it is an item comprised primarily of card and paper derived from the pulp that is prepared from the wood of trees and compiled and stuck together with adhesive but then – and here is the magical key – brought to life through the thoughts of a human mind that are printed on to the card and paper through the substance we call ink, often using different colours.
Yes, it is the life-inspired message of the author that gives to the raw materials of the book the capacity to attract, captivate and inspire the reader to greater things and greater heights. It does then, of course, depend on the discernment of the reader to choose books that will develop positive thoughts and enhance their life.
With absolute certainty, I can say that reading books has enabled me to develop my cultural appreciation, my spiritual perspective, my understanding of politics, economics and international relations, and my commitment to my own health and fitness. Indeed, over the decades, books have helped to develop and refine my belief system and core values and put them into practice with a positive effect to benefit me and others.
My experience is that the books that we read help create the mental environment that renews our minds and enables us to realize our dreams. Books expand our vision by allowing us to enter into other worlds, to explore different mindsets and to improve our lives by helping us decide the paths along which we choose to travel. When I first met Susan, in the very first conversation that I had with her, she was promoting her trilogy book set on superfoods, high-level nutrition, which foods to include and avoid in your diet and her delicious plant-based recipes. Although I had already been a vegan for some 12 years, by embracing her dietary advice, I have experienced nothing short of a revolution in nutrition and my whole health through a massive boost to my energy levels and well-being. I have chronicled the impact on my health and fitness levels in my forewords to her excellent books, Invest in Yourself with Exercise, Choose To THRIVE, Be The Change and others. These books are overflowing with gems of wisdom about maintaining excellent health and empowering your life. As a point of interest, after first meeting Susan, I made it a literary priority to somehow secure a copy of every book that Susan had ever written, the impact of her writing and teaching was, and continues to be, so influential on my life.
The Power of Books for the Realization of Our Dreams
Let me share some further examples with you from my own life. As a young boy in primary school, I would often go into the art room where there was a wonderful collection of books in bold colours with inspiring covers. One day, a book entitled Britain, published by Batsford, caught my attention with a beautiful photograph on every right-hand page of an interesting place in Britain with a brief concise description on the left-hand page. The photographs within included famous gardens, cathedrals, stately homes as well as beautiful coastal scenes and wide open breathtaking moorlands. At my request, that next Christmas, my parents kindly bought this book for me as a gift, and I poured through the pages in every spare moment at my desk in my bedroom, dreaming of seeing these wonderful places. I even wrote a poem (which I still keep to this day) about Britain, inspired by this book, long before I had visited the places photographed.
The reality is that all these years later I have visited all these places, whether through business trips, speaking invitations or my many hill-walking expeditions or family holidays. I have realized those dreams that were inspired by the vision that book created in my mind, showing me all the richness and diversity of the landscape of the British Isles.
When, at age 11, I won my place to go to the local grammar school, Hanley High School, and later still, at age 18, when I won my place to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University, more worlds opened up to me – and again it was through reading books. It was impressed upon me during my first week at Oxford that you “read” for a degree.
At that time, I wanted to see the world and now I have visited nearly 40 countries, again primarily through business trips or speaking invitations, as well as holidays. Reading books helped me formulate my vision and imprint that mindset of “I can do it!” in my subconscious so that the opportunities arose for me to see this magnificent world with all its cultural diversity and at the same time be of service to businesses and to communities.
For another example, from my late teens, the American frontier fascinated me, and I wanted to know the secrets that had spurred the dramatic growth of America, so I read the books that would reveal those secrets to me and give me the knowledge and understanding that would strengthen my own abilities to progress my life. I wanted to understand the development of America, its origins, its politics, its cultures, its geography and its people. I was truly captivated by the concept of the American Dream which I discovered and learned about through reading. It was books that developed my knowledge and expanded my horizons that inspired my ambitions and now, as well as my home in England, I also have a home in West Los Angeles.
It really is, therefore, no coincidence that I met Susan almost ten years ago on one of her visits to London and we have subsequently developed and cofounded our own publishing company, Books To UPLIFT, as well as many other various ventures together. These achievements are the manifestation of the dreams that were inspired by reading books and the answers that I sought out and found through reading and then thinking about the inspiration and the understanding that came to me through reading.
My Home Library
During my time at Oxford I noticed that all the university teachers had their own library of books which, on occasions, I had the opportunity to peruse. I determined that I would build my own home library, and, over the decades, I have built an impressive collection of all kinds of books from all genres. Purchasing books from all over the world during my travels is one of my great passions.
Upon graduation, I decided to fill my mind with all the best literature and, therefore, my periods of respite from the development of my professional career and evening study were spent reading the great English-speaking authors of history. These included the pristine perfection of Jane Austen’s use of the English language; the traditions of Thomas Hardy and D.H. Lawrence in reflecting the vicissitudes of nature in their provincial characters; the sheer masterpieces of the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare; the wonderful narratives and character depictions of Charles Dickens and many other works. Add to that the poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson, John Milton, John Dryden, George Herbert, John Donne, Robert Herrick and the vast repertoire of English-speaking poetry and my library was expanding by the day.
It has been sad for me in recent years to see the demise of many small book stores in my original home town of Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, and throughout England as well as in Los Angeles. The smaller, privately-owned bookshops have been great sources for the development of my home library over the years. However, it is my belief that the actual concept of a book in the traditional sense and the joy that comes from the book cannot ever be replaced by computer book readers like Kindle. To me, there will always be something magical about owning, holding and reading a real book, maybe annotating that book, working its pages in my mind for digestion, assimilation and critical appraisal and making it truly my own and part of the record of my passage through life.
There is a very precious portion of my home library that is comprised of books that are gifts to me from my mother and father. The book entitled Britain that I mentioned earlier is one of them. They were both committed to the education of their children and nurtured my own particular fascination with books and my desire to learn. Another example is Francis Turner Palgrave’s The Golden Treasury, a magnificent anthology of poetry which my mother bought for me in 1975, a work that continues to inspire me to this day. These books were gifts, and books will always offer the opportunity to make a treasured gift to another person. In my view, acting as a gift is one of the many express purposes of a book. In recent years, Susan has gifted me books about health, alongside her own-authored books, opening up another treasured part of my home library.
Why the Bible is My Favorite Book
This brings me to my favorite book of all, the Bible, which has its own illustrious history in the production of its multiple translations, although that is the subject for another day. When I study the Bible, I work primarily with the Revised Standard Version that I bought myself some 40 years ago when at university, the King James Authorised Version that my parents bought me on passing my first music examination and the New International Version that Susan bought me some years ago. I find all these translations invaluable to my understanding. Together, these three translations, sometimes combined with the Amplified Version, give me a full appreciation of the meaning of any given verse and enable me to track back, as necessary, into my New Testament Greek dictionary for the precise meaning of a word.
As a Christian, I believe that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God and, therefore, contains the wisdom of God. For me to grow as a Christian, I choose to learn the wisdom keys that the Bible teaches, and I believe that by following the commandments and ordinances of the Bible and believing on the promises, my trust in God is secure. The Bible is different from any other book. Even when I close my Bible, it is still speaking to me from the scriptural verses that have taken root within my heart. By studying the Bible on a daily basis, I am equipped to address matters relating to any aspect of life that may emerge during the course of the day because the answer is already in my heart from all that I have learned from decades of Biblical study.
I am often asked how to know the will of God. Alternatively, people sometimes tell me that they are praying to know the will of God. Well, this is how I see the matter – God tells us his will through the Bible and, as a spiritual rule of thumb, we should first search the Holy Scriptures for the answer and then pray for that answer to be manifested in our lives. Even if the answer is not immediately obvious through our reading of the Bible, keep reading, keep immersing yourself in the verses, believing that the answer is there, and it will emerge in your spirit. I practice what I call “Bible-praying” which is praying with the Bible open and allowing the Word of God to seep into my spirit so that my spirit can bear witness to the Holy Spirit of God.
Needless to say, the Bible is the book that is dearest to my heart and which I love the most. The advice I give is this – whatever your knowledge of the Bible, simply believe that it is true and submit yourself to its pages and it will speak to you like no other book. It will enrich your life and guide you into all truth and love. Also, it contains lots of stories of interesting lives, all chronicled for us by the Jewish writers, from Abraham as the father of the nation, to Joseph with his coat of many colours, to David, the shepherd-boy who was anointed by God to be king, through to the great adventures of the apostles in the Book of Acts and much more, including books of wisdom, books of love and real advice for the everyday issues of modern life.
Most supremely, though, the Bible has precedence in my life because it tells me through the gospel stories about Jesus, His ministry, His wisdom and His eternal life-giving presence in our lives. Remember, the Bible is the Word of God, literally God’s words given to us to guide us along life’s way for a fulfilling and abundant life. Reading the Bible is like reading the mind of God. It is the wisdom of God to provide the answer to all of life’s questions and then, through the Spirit of Jesus, we are given the power to overcome any obstacle that may come our way.
To conclude, these are some verses from the Bible that inspire me.
“Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
“Behold, you desire truth in the inward being; therefore, teach me wisdom in my secret heart.”
“All things work together for good to and for those who love God.”
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Rejoice always and delight in your faith; be unceasing and persistent in prayer; in every situation [no matter what the circumstances] be thankful and continually give thanks to God…”
Choose to become a book reader, too — for knowledge and understanding, for wisdom and insight, for enjoyment and delight — and make sure that you exercise discernment in the books you choose to read. Remember that books can become your friends, a fact of which I am particularly mindful when choosing the books to take with me on my travels.
As the name implies, our publishing company, Books To UPLIFT, was established to host and feature the enriching, empowering and, yes, uplifting books written by Susan Smith Jones. I encourage you to make some of Susan’s books your friends. They will enhance your life. I have shared with you a fraction of my life’s journey in the power of books and how they have enriched, empowered and uplifted me. Our commitment at Books To UPLIFT is to continue that tradition.
Welcome to our website and our array of books for you to select some for your experience and enjoyment along your own life journey.