Saturday, September 21, 2013

The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne

from goodreads: 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.

This was a very interesting book. I've been wanting to read it ever since it came out a few months ago, and I finally got my hands on a copy last week. This book is packed with a lot of eclectic information-it talks about the author's struggle with Tourette's, his weight training, and his love of books. 

I labeled this book as inspirational because I was astounded to read how much of an impact Tourette's has on his life. To read how he just moves forward and tries to keep it under control was very inspiring to me. For about a year after I was diagnosed with MS, I wallowed a bit just knowing I had an incurable condition. So to read about the ways Hanagarne tries to conquer his Tourette's motivated me to continue seeking new ideas and therapies. It was interesting to see how weight lifting helped him with Tourette's, and when one technique stopped working, he picked up a different one. He is an admirable person!

The librarian in me loved that the beginning of each chapter looks like this:

I'm trying to memorize the dewey decimal classification, so I thought this was a fun way to introduce what the chapter would be about. It was fun to read about his adventures working in the Salt Lake library! I work in a small library where we circulate around 500,000 items per year. In Salt Lake, they circulate around 4 million items per year! It sounds like he deals with a lot of craziness there, and it was interesting to see what a day at his work looks like. I could read an entire book devoted to that alone! Hanagarne and I share a love of books and libraries, and a couple of quotes I loved were: 

"The public library contains multitudes. And each person who visits contains multitude as well. Each of us is a library of thought, memories, experiences and odors. We adapt to one another to produce the human condition." 

And, "...A good library's existence is a potential step forward for a community. If hate and fear have ignorance at their core, maybe the library can curb their effects, if only by offering ideas and neutrality. It's a safe place to explore, to meet with other minds, to touch other centuries, religions, races, and learn what you truly think about the world."

This was an interesting story filled with faith, fortitude, and the richness that family and books can add to your life.

Rating: 3.5
Published: 5.2013
Content: Language

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