Interview with Ondine Sherman: Books that changed me

"Ondine Sherman is the managing director and co-founder of Voiceless, one of Australia's leading animal protection groups. Her children's novel Sky is about a young girl living in a small Australian town who stumbles across a case of animal cruelty. Sherman grew up in Sydney and lives in Tel Aviv with her family.

Fantastic Mr Fox - Roald Dahl

When I was little, to say I loved animals would be a colossal understatement. I became vegetarian when I was seven and, not knowing other vegies, spent my childhood feeling a little out of place. In this book, we take the side of clever foxes over mean humans, reinforcing my childhood belief that we were by far inferior to the amazing world of animals.

Siddhartha - Hermann Hesse

I read this when I was 18 and was in awe. Beauty, simplicity and power emanates from every perfect sentence. Here, Siddhartha watches a river, discovering mindfulness: "He learned from it to listen, to pay close attention with a quiet heart, with a waiting, opened soul, without passion, without a wish, without judgement, without an opinion." The book caused me to think deeply about life, nature and how I exist in the world.

Animal Liberation - Peter Singer

This book was seminal in firing up the animal protection movement, influencing a generation of people into action. Singer argues that there is no ethical argument for the cruelty we human-animals inflict on other species who are sentient and capable, like us, of feeling joy and pain, happiness and despair. His philosophy is the key reason I've spent my life working to end factory farming, which causes billions of sentient animals untold suffering.

A Grief Observed - C.S Lewis

The celebrated author of The Chronicles of Narnia originally wrote this book under a pseudonym and it was only after his death that his name was revealed. It is a beautifully honest account of the loss of his wife to cancer. I read it when I was searching for answers for my own emotional turmoil that came out of having twins with severe disabilities. His voice is clear, vulnerable, and full of pain. It inspired me to try and live and write as authentically as I can. Through sharing our stories, difficult and painful as they are, we bring light to others and the world."

Thank you, Fairfax for asking me such a fun and interesting question.

Read the Sydney Morning Herald article here

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© Ondine Sherman 2020

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