Sunday, August 18, 2013

The World's Strongest Librarian

The World's Strongest Librarian
Josh Hanagarne

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

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.

Dear Reader,

I was extremely lucky to attend a Q&A and signing by Josh Hanagarne at the Hartford Public Library. The book itself had been on my to read list for awhile and when I saw the chance, I grabbed it. Josh is extremely tall, which normally would have people intimidated but his presence was inviting and his lovable sense of humor had me sold. I wanted to dive into the book after seeing him. He spoke of his love of Stephen King, who by chance was doing his own Q&A at the Mark Twain House the next day (Josh was able to grab a position as his bodyguard for that event and arm wrestled Stephen King which you can read about by clicking here or you can read about his Hartford trip by clicking here). The picture I've attached below is one I took from the event:

Getting back to the book, I loved it right from the beginning. If you're at all like me, you'll like this book. It has fond childhood memories of the library, youthful adoration of Stephen King, struggling with the pressure of religious beliefs, finding our what you want to do with your life, and so much more. His experience with King mirrored my own, reading his books at TOO young an age to be appropriate. I'll leave all the hilarious stories about doing so for when you read it, but they're great. I related so much to his childhood memories of the library that it brought me right back. My Aunt used to take me to the library and create fun treasure hunts for me and a friend, magical times I will never forget. Reading his library experiences brought me right back to those moments.

So why did I give this 4 stars? Maybe this book does deserve 5, it probably does BUT a major part of this book didn't really speak to me. He goes into quite a bit of detail on his strength training with kettle balls, something that had little interest to me but I now have a clearer understanding because of it. I'm sure there is someone out there that will love these parts of his book, but it wasn't for me. I also understand why they're in there... it IS his life after all. I don't think you should be weary to read this because you're not interested in this, the parts of the book that go into it are still very interesting. The Tourette's played a large part of the book and will speak to many with the same problems. The book is very inspiring, one part will stay with me forever; "Learning was a reward. And when I came home from school, instead of asking, 'How was school today?' they'd ask, 'What did you ask today?' " I can only hope to someday use this with my own children, it really is the perfect question.

Happy Reading,

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