Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength and the Power of Family


Author: Josh Hanagarne
Genre: autobiography
Type: e-audiobook
Source: Local Public Library
First Published: May 2013
First Lines: "Today the library is hot, humid and smelly. It was like working inside a giant pair of glass underpants without any leg holes to escape through."

Book Description from GoodReads:  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's 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.

My Review:  When I first noticed this e-audiobook in the catalogue at the library where I work I was, at first, skeptical.  I think many people would be if I were to describe it in the following way.  It's a book about a 6' 7" Mormon librarian who goes to weight-lifting to deal with his severe ticks from Tourette's all the while questioning his faith as well as dealing with his family.  Ya, not typically the type of book I read/listen to and yet I was intrigued.

If I'm being honest, the fact that Josh works in a library was what pushed me to get this book.  But it's the heart, his humour, his conversational style of story telling and his apt descriptions of life working on the front lines in a public library - the challenges, the joys and the rewards -- that kept me listening.  Throughout the book, no matter what topic he was discussing, you always got a sense of who Hanagarne is and I loved that.

This was a very down-to-earth, unique, funny and heart-warming book where the reader truly gets to know Hanagarne.  He has definitely struggled in his life to overcome so much but uses his humour and family (who he unabashedly loves) to get through it.  He's a very relatable kind of guy.

I never would have thought that I'd enjoy a book that included Tourette's, weight lifting and Mormonism.  But I did.  Along the way I also learned a thing or two about Tourette's, Mormonism and weight lifting.  But it was the addition of his quirky, humourous tales about unique library situations and how he dealt with his questions regarding his Mormon faith and dealing with his Tourette's that made it impossible for me to not enjoy this book.

My Rating: 4/5 stars

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