The World's Strongest Librarian

The World's Strongest Librarian

A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family

Book - 2013
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Penguin Putnam
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.

Baker & Taylor
Traces the public librarian author's inspiring story as a Mormon youth with Tourette's Syndrome who after a sequence of radical and ineffective treatments overcame nightmarish tics through education, military service and strength training.

Publisher: New York, New York : Gotham Books, [2013]
ISBN: 9781592407873
Branch Call Number: 020.92 HAN
Characteristics: pages cm


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Aug 05, 2017

This book came to me as I was searching for materials to better understand Tourette's Syndrome. Combine a memoir discussing just that with an interest in the library, weightlifting, and the life of a Mormon youth, and you have a unique combination that caught my eye.
I like that the book didn't have a concrete conclusion. It was left open and reminds the reader that, while a hobby or a past time can be used to help aid an affliction, it may not be the permanent solution. You learn and you grow.
I heard the author has a blog that discusses more about his Tourette's, the library, and weightlifting, too. I'll need to check it out sometime!

ser_library Jan 29, 2014

i learned about Tourette Syndrome and enjoyed the comments on life in a public library

bibliotechnocrat Dec 25, 2013

921 - damn fine autobiography. A giant (613.7) Mormon (289.3) with Tourette's (616.83) becomes a librarian (021.65).... Say what? Sounds like the opening line of a joke, but the pages turn themselves in this compelling book.

Raised in a Mormon household, the book-obsessed author learns to value family and faith. But beyond support and care, his family cannot offer much help with the alien landscape of Tourette Syndrome. And, as he matures, his faith becomes less an anchor than an albatross.

Hanagarne discovers that weights and strength training can be used as a way to control the symptoms of his disease, and so becomes the world's strongest librarian. His journey takes him to unexpected places and to interactions with unexpected people. I love the autistic Air Force Sergeant who bends horse shoes and who teaches Hanagarne to ask questions. It's a story of hope and love. Don't miss it.

Jul 01, 2013

A delight to read - this personal memoir is humorous and insightful. I especially liked Hanagarne's theory (and passion) about libraries and their role in society.

Cdnbookworm Jun 12, 2013

Josh has struggled with his Tourette's for most of his life, and is still figuring out what he can do to minimize the tics that manifest the condition. He has had the support of his family behind him all the way, and found a career that encompasses his love of books, his dedication to helping others, and his curious nature. He is not afraid to ask for help, and take it when it is offered to him. He belongs to the Mormon faith and while he sometimes questions things within that, he believes in the tenets of LDS strongly and lives his life following them. One of the ways he has addressed his Tourette's over the years is weight-lifting. It helped for a while and then it didn't and he looked for help from others, and discovered that thinking about movement was a big help. The book moves nicely back and forth from memoir and life at the library. The memoir part starts at the beginning and moves forward. The library part uses experiences to connect with the memoir. He uses DDC (Dewey Decimal Classification) as chapter headings to indicate the contents of each chapter. Josh sounds like a really interesting guy and while our taste in books may not always coincide, I think we approach librarianship in similar ways. I found this memoir enlightening, intriguing, and entertaining.


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