Our non-fiction Stella Sparks

The Stella Prize has recently announced their non-fiction Stella Sparks campaign, which highlights the impact of non-fiction writing by women on Australian culture and society. A nonfiction Stella Spark is the book, essay, article or other piece of nonfiction writing by an Australian woman that struck a spark for you. You can find out more about this fantastic campaign here.

Here, our staff share their own non-fiction Stella Sparks.


‘Anna Krien is a brilliant writer and a brilliant thinker. She’s the next Helen Garner. I highly recommend all of her works of non-fiction (two books and a Quarterly Essay, plus many fantastic essays) but I think the best of her work is Night Games, her powerful book on sex, sport and power in Australia.’

‘Last year, I cried reading Alice Pung’s powerful essay in the New York Times, and I recommend reading that and then getting your hands on everything she’s ever written. For further feminist inspiration, over the years I have turned to Catherine Deveny, Clementine Ford, Helen Garner, Fiona Wright, Annabel Crabb, and many more.’ – Nina Kenwood, marketing manager


‘I have a secret online identity as a body positive fashion blogger, so when Mel Campbell first published her hilarious and thought-provoking book, Out of Shape, I was eager to get my hands on a copy. I started reading it on a lunchbreak, and was doing so much uh-huhing and yesssss-ing that the woman sitting opposite asked me what it was that I agreed with so enthusiastically. It’s a fascinating read – witty and entertaining, as well as shrewdly analytical about an industry that trades on insecurity. Peppered throughout with interesting facts from fashion history, personal anecdotes, and interviews with interesting people, I found it a very enlightening look at the unholy alliance between body image, fashion, and commerce.’ – Lian Hingee, digital marketing manager


‘Anna Krien’s Night Games was a game changer for me -– not only as a stunning and compelling work of reportage but for its insight into sport and culture. Melbourne football culture was still a fairly new thing to me when I first read it, but the way Krien shines light into some of the more toxic yet taken-for-granted aspects of sexual politics and sporting culture. Not only stunning in its craftsmanship and compelling in its writing, but a book I still think about two years later.’ – Alan Vaarwek, editorial assistant for Readings Monthly


‘I was deeply touched by Avalanche by Julia Leigh. It’s an upfront account of her experience, ultimately unsuccessful, of assisted reproductive technology; well told and moving.’ – Jan Lockwood, human resources manager


‘When it comes to unforgettable non-fiction by Australian women, I can’t go past Elspeth Muir’s Wasted as my standout Stella Spark. Muir’s memoir was prompted by the death of her brother Alexander, who jumped off the Story Bridge with a blood-alcohol reading of almost 0.3. With a balance of intimate, evocative prose and intelligent analysis, Wasted explores both the effect of Alexander’s death on her family and Australia’s drinking culture more broadly. Simultaneously personal and journalistic, Muir has written an intensely affecting account of grief and memory. The memoir moved me and I know I’ll refer to it for a long time.’ – Stella Charls, events and marketing coordinator


‘I read Into the Woods by Anna Krien after attending an event between her and Benjamin Law at the Avid Reader bookshop in Brisbane. Krien describes the situation in Tasmania around the timber industry from four perspectives: the loggers, the Greenies, the Company, and the politicians. Her book is written with such precision, poise and clarity, and with such sincere heart and intelligence. For a work of investigative reportage, it moved me to laughter and tears a number of times. Although this book is older, I still recommend that everyone with an interest in the changing state of climate and environment politics in Australia read it. So clearly does Krien draw the imagery, emotion and humanity of our relationship to our ancient forests in all its life, destruction, and death that the final pages of Into the Woods have stayed with me for years.’ – Amy Vuleta, shop manager at Readings St Kilda


‘In the 80s, my high school history teacher gave me a copy of Damned Whores and God’s Police to read and it changed my life. I had been so in awe of the written word before then that I had not thought to question what I was reading. I hadn’t truly realised that lies or misleading stories could be published. Anne Summers showed me that women’s voices had not been part of our history books and I was outraged. The realisation turned me into a feminist. That anger propels me to act and to talk loudly to this day. My spark will always be Summers, and I’m still terribly grateful to remember that it was she who launched the Stella Prize at Federation Square all those years ago. I love a neat correlation.’ – Chris Gordon, events manager


‘Ellena Savage is a writer I fiercely admire. Everything she writes makes me reconsider my life and opinions; I want to read her forever. While she doesn’t have a book (yet!), she publishes widely across small press, print and digital, and a great place to start is this brilliant essay about art and money.’

‘I also plan to read every single thing that Fiona Wright ever writes for the rest of my life. Her book of essays on hunger and writing, Small Acts of Disappearance, brims over with empathy and is seriously heartstopping. Happily, Wright also publishes widely across publications – read her sublime essay on Sylvia Plath and illness here.’

‘Finally, the other two writers who likewise continue to stoke my love for non-fiction are Anna Krien and Alice Pung: Krien’s Night Games, and Pung’s Her Father’s Daughter each opened my eyes to the world around me – and made me a life-long reader of all that they’ve written before, or since.’ – Bronte Coates, digital content coordinator

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Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport

Night Games: Sex, Power and Sport

Anna Krien

$19.99Buy now

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