Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The World's Strongest Librarian - Arianna's review

The World's Strongest Librarian
Josh Hanagarne

Published 2013

First Sentence
"Today the library was hot, humid, and smelly."
Publisher's Description:
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.
Dear Reader,

Let me first point you to Amber's review, which was super.

Now, for my take on the book:

I just finished and am writing with the book fresh in my mind, which has gotten more rare for me these days.  I hope that will make for a better review, though.  Even though I am itching to get on to another book...! :)

Let's see - well, this book is certainly a librarian's dream!  I think it was like a guilty-pleasure librarian book, because Hanagarne drops so many book references in, after each which I would go "oh, I know that one, too!" and grin all goofily.  Yup, I'm certainly a book geek.

Hanagarne is also just so passionate about libraries, which is another reason I enjoyed the book.  Here are some quotes which I particularly enjoyed:

p. 3: " here because I love books, because I'm inveterately curious, and because, like most librarians, I'm not well suited to anything else.  As a breed, we're the ultimate generalists.  I'll never know everything about anything, but I'll know something about almost everything and that's how I like to live."  -- I say this ALL THE TIME.  Okay, maybe not in those exact words, but the part about knowing a little bit about everything I possibly can, because I know enough to know I can't know everything about anything?!  I love it.

p. 4: Libraries are "a breeding ground for curiosity."

There were plenty more scattered throughout the book, but I got caught up in it & forgot to note more down, I'm sorry!  But, I guess that just means you'll have to read the book for more!

I also want to remind you, Dear Reader, that my first experience with Mr. Hanagarne was when he came to speak at the Hartford Public Library; Amber and I attended his talk.  It was, coincidentally (and, I didn't realize HOW importantly, at the time) the same weekend as Stephen King's talk at the Bushnell, which meant Hanagarne got to meet his idol and favorite author.  I included the photo below, because my guess is, it was taken shortly after his talk at the HPL:

As you can see, Hanagarne is fun and irreverent, and yet also serious and a great pleasure to read.  The heartwarming stories he tells of his childhood with a loving - if charmingly imperfect - family, and of his continual battles with and acceptance of Tourette Syndrome were both moving and inspiring.  He writes with a friendly voice, and you often feel as if he is sitting beside you, relating what happened to him last week.  I am sure I loved the memoir even more because Hanagarne ultimately became a librarian - which seems like a shocking choice for someone with what many consider a disruptive disorder, although his love affair with books and the order found in libraries from a young age does certainly help explain how he found his calling.

I don't think I would have picked this book up had it not been about a librarian, but I feel I learned so much about the Mormon faith (which plays a huge part in the book, but don't let that put you off if you are not generally interested in religious books) and the ability to live with this extra ghost always hovering over your shoulder.  Hanagarne handles the funny and the difficult with wit and aplomb.  I highly recommend this one.


1 comment:

  1. I was wrong; Stephen King apparently spoke at the Mark Twain House in Hartford, NOT the Bushnell! My apologies.


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