In my last listicle that I put together – I shared some of my favourite pieces of sports journalism written by women, on women in sport. In that list I wrote, “I love sports journalism. I love great writing on sport” and that love of sports writing extends beyond journalism.
In this small list, I’ve decided to share some of my favourite creative writers that focus on sport. I love reading books, I love fiction and memoir, narrative nonfiction – look, I just love writing! And these authors all write creatively about different sports, in different ways, sharing their perspectives and experiences through the craft of creative writing.
And If creative writing is not your thing, remember we also have our Australian women in sport reading list for you too that is chock full of biographies and athlete journeys!
These five authors I’ve chosen to feature don’t all focus on women’s sports, but I’m keen to highlight the writing work women do around women’s roles and experiences of all sports.
These books are a small sample of some of my favourites and I’ve included some lists to some other resources if you’re looking to find some more women in sport reads. There’s so many more out there than you realise!
If you know of any that you think I should check out and we can share – please add them in the comments section.
Nicole Hayes – The Whole of My World
This was the first book of ‘footy fiction’ I ever read. It features a teenage protagonist and it would be classed as Young Adult—which I personally don’t read much of—but I found this book to have a maturity that really spoke to me.
Hayes conveys the passion, anxiety and pain being a footy fan brings, but also highlights the complexities of this experience for young women. I wish I’d come across this book sooner and that it was written when I was a teenage footy fan struggling with my identity as a young woman in the space.
Her new book, Little Legends – Ozzy Rules is also out now!
Angie Abdou – Home Ice: Reflections of a Reluctant Hockey Mom & The Bone Cage
Angie Abdou is a fabulous Canadian writer and academic who has written several books that focus on sport.
I’ve chosen these two to highlight as I love them both so much. Her writing is imaginative and honest, sometimes brutal but always beautiful.
Home Ice is a memoir of her experiences being a ‘hockey mom’ and ensuring she did everything possible for her son to best experience junior ice hockey. The way she navigates her relationship with other parents, her sense of belonging, the toll it took on her marriage and her daughter make for a raw, funny and heartening memoir.
The Bone Cage is a fictional account of the relationship between two athletes as they both work to realise their Olympic dreams in their individual sports in wrestling and swimming, a gripping and emotional read.
You can listen to Angie talk about her writing process on the latest Take The Field podcast.
S.R. Silcox – The Alice Henderson Series
The Alice Henderson Series by S. R. Silcox is a wonderful series for young readers that focuses on a fierce female protagonist working hard on her journey to make it as a cricketer.
Again, I wish more books like this existed when I was young to see diverse characters that opened my world view and normalised women and girls playing the sports they love.
Miriam Sved – Game Day
There are so few fiction books about Australian rules footy! Miriam Sved’s is one of the rarities. Game Day follows the football season of an AFL club and each chapter is told through the eyes of someone connected to the club which allows for diverse views and experiences which can be uncomfortable and complicated, but important. It’s a clever look at how football impacts different people in different ways and the prices some people pay to be part of that world.
Zoe Foster-Blake – Playing the Field
Foster-Blake’s novel about the world of WAGs is a look into the life of women who are the partners of athletes, in this case rugby players in Sydney. It can be read as somewhat autobiographical from her own personal experience in this space, but you don’t need to know her story to fall into the narrative. It can be a hard read as you follow the protagonist’s journey to change herself and perform in certain ways to be more accepted and be the type of woman she thinks her athlete will love and, and perhaps more importantly, actually like.
Burn it All Down’s Jessica Luther is a big romance novel fan and interviewed romance novelist Alexa Martin about her upcoming romance novel that was inspired by Colin Kaepernick.
Luther also shared this list of 100 (yeah – 100!) sports romance novels that are out there if romance is your thing. There is a lot of diversity of sport and love story on this list which is wonderful.
A few more:
Catherine Harris – ‘The Family Men’ is an Australian rules football novel that is beautifully written and packs a powerful punch on the misogynist culture. TW for sexual assault.
Emily Nemens – ‘The Cactus League’ is a novel that focuses on an American baseball preseason and the lives of different people connected to the team and star outfielder.
Quan Barry – ‘We Ride Upon Sticks’ is about a high school field hockey team whose school is in the coastal town of Danvers, Massachusetts (which in 1692 was Salem Village, site of the origins of the Salem Witch Trials), a weaving narrative portraying fierce women.