Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The World's Strongest Librarian - Josh Hanagarne

An inspiring story of how a Mormon kid with Tourette’s found salvation in books and weight-lifting

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.

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, who has already started to show his own symptoms of Tourette’s.

The World’s Strongest Librarian illuminates the mysteries of this little-understood disorder, as well as the very different worlds of strongman training and modern libraries. With humor and candor, this unlikely hero traces his journey to overcome his disability— and navigate his wavering Mormon faith—to find love and create a life worth living.  (Image and summary taken from goodreads.com.)

I was provided a free copy of this book for review.  All opinions are my own.

My Review:  A Salt Lake City Mormon who loves books, weights, and copes with Tourette’s?  I was hooked before I had even received the book!  Josh Hanagarne’s writing style is casual, but the turmoil he feels dealing with his diagnosis and life with Tourette Syndrome is real.  He makes it a personal battle, one that you immediately empathize with.  His constant companion, he nicknames the syndrome Misty, pushes him to challenge himself physically, as he recognizes that challenges hold his tics at bay.

One of my most favorite parts of the book was the obvious and deep love that Josh feels for his parents, his family, and his family-in-law.  He is surrounded by loving, supportive, caring individuals – people who he describes with such joy that I found myself wanting to crawl through the book and join their gatherings.

Another fun aspect of the book is the title heading method Hanagarne employs.  He uses the Dewey Decimal system to categorize what the chapter entails.  As a library geek, I loved it!

My Rating:  Four stars

For the Sensitive Reader:  There were many more f words than I would have expected – six or seven in total.  There are also a few instances of crass language. 


Anonymous said...

I've got this one coming up on my list of to reads. Thanks for a review that gives me a sense of enjoyment waiting for me.

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

I had mixed feelings about this book -- I thought he was trying to do too much -- is it a library book? A faith book? A struggle with illness book?


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