Shelf Control #313: The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

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Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

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Title: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women
Author: Kate Moore
Published: 2017
Length: 404 pages

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

The incredible true story of the women who fought America’s Undark danger

The Curies’ newly discovered element of radium makes gleaming headlines across the nation as the fresh face of beauty, and wonder drug of the medical community. From body lotion to tonic water, the popular new element shines bright in the otherwise dark years of the First World War.

Meanwhile, hundreds of girls toil amidst the glowing dust of the radium-dial factories. The glittering chemical covers their bodies from head to toe; they light up the night like industrious fireflies. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” are the luckiest alive—until they begin to fall mysteriously ill.

But the factories that once offered golden opportunities are now ignoring all claims of the gruesome side effects, and the women’s cries of corruption. And as the fatal poison of the radium takes hold, the brave shining girls find themselves embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of America’s early 20th century, and in a groundbreaking battle for workers’ rights that will echo for centuries to come.

Written with a sparkling voice and breakneck pace, The Radium Girls fully illuminates the inspiring young women exposed to the “wonder” substance of radium, and their awe-inspiring strength in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Their courage and tenacity led to life-changing regulations, research into nuclear bombing, and ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

How and when I got it:

I added the Kindle edition to my e-library in 2017, a few months after the book’s release.

Why I want to read it:

I’ve heard about the “radium girls” many times over the years, in the context of history websites, mentions in TV profiles, and even through a weird but amazing speculative fiction novella (The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander). The sheer horror of what these women went through is astonishing.

I’ve heard so many great things about The Radium Girls, and have been meaning to read it ever since I got a copy! Sadly, as I seem to always mention, I just don’t gravitate toward reading non-fiction — which is something I need to change. I have so many non-fiction books on my shelves that sound amazing, but I just never seem to be ready to pick them up.

Have you read or heard of The Radium Girls? Does this sound like something you’d want to read?

Please share your thoughts!


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  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
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11 thoughts on “Shelf Control #313: The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

  1. I see this book around all the time but I haven’t read it either. I’m fascinated by this story, though. Not sure I’ll ever read it myself, but I look forward to your review if you do😁

    • Thanks! I have such a mental block when it comes to actually picking up a non-fiction book, no matter how interesting I think it will be. I’m going to really need to give myself a push (and a stern talking-to) if I’m finally going to read this one.

  2. One I’d certainly like to read. I seem like you to pick up more fiction than nonfic have have had my own piles standing as they are for ages. Only the nonfic I’ve picked up from netgalley or Edelweiss gets read

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