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#514 ~ The World’s Strongest Librarian

Cover of The World's Strongest Librarian
The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne

Published by: Gotham

Published on: May 2, 2013

Page Count: 288

Genre: Memoir

My Reading Format: eGalley provided to me by the publisher for considertion

Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook, and Audiobook

Note: This book will prompt you to pay your library fines.

Summary from the Publisher

Josh Hanagarne couldn’t be invisible if he tried. Although he wouldn’t officially be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until his freshman year of high school, Josh was six years old and onstage in a school Thanksgiving play when he first began exhibiting symptoms. By the time he was twenty, the young Mormon had reached his towering adult height of 6’7” when—while serving on a mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints—his Tourette’s tics escalated to nightmarish levels.

Determined to conquer his affliction, Josh underwent everything from quack remedies to lethargy-inducing drug regimes to Botox injections that paralyzed his vocal cords and left him voiceless for three years. Undeterred, Josh persevered to marry and earn a degree in Library Science. At last, an eccentric, autistic strongman—and former Air Force Tech Sergeant and guard at an Iraqi prison—taught Josh how to “throttle” his tics into submission through strength-training.


My Review

Josh Hanagarne is a man who has been dealing with Tourette’s Syndrome since he was a young Mormon boy who loved more than anything to read. While his path to the library was a long road full of pot holes, it seemed only natural that he would one day find himself working at a library. While he may suffer from tics and other symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome that make his life difficult, he was raised by loving parents who instilled in him a healthy self worth and a wonderful sense of humor. From the first pages of this book I was drawn to the way literature and books tied back to his life. I enjoyed the way he expressed his love for his work at the library by way of highlighting some of the odder or less appetizing aspects of library work. That he could put up with graffiti, misuse of public restrooms, and people continuously hiding books about the occult and hold dear to himself the ultimate goal and meaning of libraries warmed my heart. Coupled with the way in which he opens up about some of his own personal failings and I could not put this book down. I wanted to spend time with him, tics and all, as he explored how Tourette’s impacted his socially, spiritually, and physically. I wanted to be with him when he drove to the middle of nowhere and cried out to God and when he was in the gym using strength training to bring his demons under control. All along I very much appreciated his willingness to share his life with me.

Josh Hanagarne is the kind of librarian I want to have in my own neighborhood. He is smart, he is community minded, and he is deliciously irreverent about even the most reverent things. When he wrote of his impulse to walk out on his first day as a Morman missionary in Washington, D. C. and say, “This shit’s about to get real,” I laughed so hard I had to put my eReader down for a minute. If he walked up to me and said that, my intrinsic dread of those conversations would vanish quickly. He would have my attention. If the missionary were anything like Josh Hanagarne, he would hold it, too, especially if we just ended up talking about books and libraries.

While the strength mentioned in the title deals with the weight training Hanagarne uses to help keep his Tourette’s Syndrome under control, what made a lasting impression on me is the author’s strength of family, character, and sense of self. Stories like these make sharing in the human experience fulfilling. There is no one I wouldn’t recommend this memoir to, but this story of living up to one’s potential despite seemingly overwhelming odds makes it a perfect gift for graduates, loving parents, and lovers of libraries.

 

11 Comments

  • At 2013.05.10 11:22, Michele@A Reader's Respite said:

    Love the idea of giving this to graduates!

    • At 2013.05.10 11:29, Farin said:

      Aw, I’m all misty-eyed! You hit on everything that spoke to me when I read this book for the first time. I’m so glad you liked it!

      • At 2013.05.10 12:16, Beth Hoffman said:

        I’ve had this book on my list for a while, but for some reason was waffling as to whether I should buy it. You’re review is terrific and I’m convinced!

        • At 2013.05.10 13:51, Jennifer said:

          This is one of those books that restores your faith in humanity 😉 There are awesome bookish people out there with fantastic stories! I’m so glad you liked this one, it’s one of my recent favorites and I expect it to be one of my favorites for this year.

          • At 2013.05.10 15:41, bermudaonion(Kathy) said:

            This sounds fantastic! I can’t wait to read it!

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            • At 2013.05.10 18:27, Sandy said:

              You know, until this very moment, I didn’t even know what this book was about. I’d seen the reviews fly by on my reader but didn’t even pay attention. So wow. Now it is totally calling out to me. And hats off the parents for raising such a wonderful young man, despite his challenges. I must get my hands on this one.

              • At 2013.05.11 06:30, Beth F said:

                I really need to get to this one. It sounds terrific. And I was wondering what the “strongest” meant in the title.

                • […] Literate Housewife: “From the first pages of this book I was drawn to the way literature and books tied back to his life. I enjoyed the way he expressed his love for his work at the library by way of highlighting some of the odder or less appetizing aspects of library work . . . Coupled with the way in which he opens up about some of his own personal failings and I could not put this book down. I wanted to spend time with him, tics and all, as he explored how Tourette’s impacted his socially, spiritually, and physically. I wanted to be with him when he drove to the middle of nowhere and cried out to God and when he was in the gym using strength training to bring his demons under control. All along I very much appreciated his willingness to share his life with me . . . When he wrote of his impulse to walk out on his first day as a Mormon missionary in Washington, D. C. and say, “This shit’s about to get real,” I laughed so hard I had to put my eReader down for a minute. If he walked up to me and said that, my intrinsic dread of those conversations would vanish quickly. He would have my attention . . . Stories like these make sharing in the human experience fulfilling. There is no one I wouldn’t recommend this memoir to, but this story of living up to one’s potential despite seemingly overwhelming odds makes it a perfect gift for graduates, loving parents, and lovers of libraries.” […]

                  • At 2013.05.11 14:00, Sheila (Book Journey) said:

                    Thanks for the review – I was curious about this one.

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                    • At 2013.05.14 15:56, Pat said:

                      Oh another to add to my want to read list and or stack. Wish I’d read this before our book club meeting this AM. But then again I can suggest it another month.

                      • At 2013.05.25 18:08, Lu said:

                        This book sounds so charming.

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