The world’s strongest librarian by Josh Hanagarne

Hi everyone to this last week of September!! The title featured this week is slightly different from the others so far. We have an adult biography featuring the life story of librarian Josh Hanagarne and his struggles with Tourette’s syndrome. I know it sounds a bit quirky and an odd combination, but if you give it a chance, you might find yourself laughing until your sides hurt!! Go on, give it a whirl!!

The world's strongest librarian weightlifter/strongman holding up growing pile of books
An inspiring and entertaining memoir

Title: The world’s strongest librarian: a memoir of Tourette’s, faith, strength, and the power of family

Author: Josh Hanagarne

Genre: Biography

Publication details: Gotham Books; NY; 2014

ISBN: 9781592408771

What this book is about: Although he wouldn’t officially be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until his freshman year of high school, Josh Hanagarne 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. Today, Josh is a librarian in the main branch of Salt Lake City’s public library and founder of a popular blog about books and weight lifting, and the proud father of four-year-old Max. 

My review: You can tell exactly what attracted me to this book!! If you guessed the word ‘librarian’ in the title then give yourself 10/10!! As I started reading this insanely funny and heartwarming biography I more or less fell in love with Josh Hanagarne!! His writing that is! Told in his unique voice, John starts this book with how book-obsessed he was as a child and fell head over heels in love with Fern from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, and we see his life progress. Diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome at elementary school, he tries over the years to control his tics. Despite many treatments his tics worsened and the list of casualties grew; his girlfriend, his Mormon mission, his college career, countless jobs, his sense of self and – slowly his faith. The one thing that eventually provided relief turned out to be weight-lifting. With encouragement from his father and the guidance from an eccentric strongman, Josh quickly went from lifting dumbbells and barbells to performing increasingly elaborate feats. Within a few years Josh turned his hobby into a way of life, and an effective way of managing his disorder. 

What I loved best from Josh’s story, other than the way he overcame his disorder, was the quirky anecdotes he’s included about life as a librarian. Every time he recounted a strange incident I imagined a gentle giant of 6’ 7”, looming over the stacks and confronting the strange and weird world of library patrons. I wish we could have him work here in Auckland!!

I just loved Josh’s story and admired his strength in managing his Tourette’s and the devotion he has to his family and his faith. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading and also learning about life in general.

My rating: 4½⭐

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