Since the Library was founded, our goal has been to collect and share Australian stories. Recently, we have been particularly focused on exploring Australian sports stories through our exhibition, Grit & Gold: Tales from a Sporting Nation. Using items from our collection, this exhibition journeys through Australian sport from the 19th century to today and dives into stories of heroes, sportsmanship and triumph. In the last room of the exhibition, we have created a reading nook for those wishing to dive more deeply into various sporting stories.

Woman sitting on a red armchair reading in front of large bookshelf with another woman looking at a book placed on the shelf beside a framed image of Shane Warne

Whether you’re looking to explore some sporting stories at home, learn about the lives and careers of some of Australia’s greatest athletes or expand your knowledge of sporting history, this blog has some wonderful books from the AFL, cricket, soccer and rugby fields to get you started. All of these books are available to view at the National Library, and many are also available to view online when onsite at various state and territory libraries.


If AFL is your sport of choice, there’s no shortage of options to keep you entertained. Follow the journey of one of the game’s best-known captains, Chris Judd, with his autobiography Inside. In this honest and intelligent book, Judd reflects on his experience working his way to the very top of the sport and the pressure he felt once he got there.

Exploring similar themes is Matt Watson’s Sons of Guns, which shares the experiences of father-son dynasties within the AFL. Through candid interviews with fathers and sons that played for the same teams, this book provides deep insight into the extreme pressure and immense pride felt along the way.

For a different perspective, there’s much to learn in Samantha Lane’s inspiring book Roar: the Stories Behind AFLW - A Movement Bigger than Sport. This book celebrates the AFL Women’s League and the trailblazers who made it happen, including players Daisy Pearce and Tayla Harris, and coaches Bec Goddard and Craig Starcevich.

Images of three AFLW players photoshopped onto red background so they float about bold white letters reading 'ROAR' with smaller white text reading 'The stories behind AFLW - a movement bigger than sport SAMANTHA LANE'
Roar: the Stories Behind AFLW - A Movement Bigger than Sport by Samantha Lane


If rugby league is more your scene, look back on the history of the battle between blues and maroons in 40 Years of State of Origin: The Magic, the Moments, the Memories. This tribute to the event sees rugby league expert and journalist Martin Lenehan dive into the highlights and legends seen since the first match in 1980.

For a more in-depth look at one of rugby league’s toughest players, check out Paul Gallen’s Heart and Soul: My Story, written by Gallen himself and sports journalist David Riccio. This honest and powerful book examines his nearly two-decades at the top of the sport, including the controversies encountered along the way.

Don’t think we’ve forgotten about rugby union! Among our collection are numerous books about some of the sport’s best players, including John Eales: The Biography by Peter FitzSimons. Considered the sport’s most successful captain, this book covers all the highs and lows of his very impressive career.

Black background with thick maroon stripe on the left and blue stripe on the right and text reading '40 YEARS OF STATE OF ORIGIN' with the State of Origin crest
40 Years of State of Origin: The Magic, the Moments, the Memories by Martin Lenehan


For the cricket fans, you can’t go wrong with the stories of Shane Warne and Don Bradman. In Roland Perry’s Don Bradman: the Definitive Biography, learn how Bradman went from the ‘boy from Bowral' to a legend of the game, still being recognised for his talent and hard work nearly a century after his first match for New South Wales.  

For insight into the modern-day cricket superstar, try No Spin by Shane Warne with Mark Nicholas. This tell-all covers his life on and off the pitch with wit and honesty, making it a must-read for any cricket enthusiast. 

If you like a little history and politics with your cricket, The Bodyline Fix: How Women Saved Cricket is the read for you. This book tells the story of a diverse group of exceptionally talented cricket players who defied expectations and gained international acclaim as they represented their country.

Photo of Don Bradman smiling and  wearing 'baggy green' cricket cap with large text reading 'DON BRADMAN' AND 'ROLAND PERRY'
Don Bradman: the Definitive Biography by Roland Perry


Get your soccer fix with The Immortals of Australian Soccer by soccer journalist Lucas Radbourne and learn about the home-grown legends of the game. Focusing on 11 players from throughout Australian soccer history, such as Sam Kerr and Johnny Warren, this book explores their careers and unique impacts on the sport. 

Learn more about one immortal in particular, Tim Cahill, in his autobiography Legacy. From his childhood in Sydney to his impressive time in the English Premier League, Cahill reflects on the mental strength, sacrifice, hard work and integrity it took to get him to the top.

Action shots of Australian soccer players photoshopped together on dark green background with text reading 'The IMMORTALS of Australian Soccer'
The Immortals of Australian Soccer by Lucas Radbourne

Find more stories

Interested in more sporting stories? Visit the Grit & Gold exhibition onsite or online to explore the sporting stories in our collection or get the Grit & Gold book to see the stories from home.  

For more sports stories reading recommendations, check out Sports stories part 2: On the court and in the pool.