Friday, June 21, 2013
The World's Strongest Librarian - Review
Author: Josh Hanagarne
Source: The Penguin Group
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 book is seriously one of the best I have read all year. From the moment I picked it up and started reading, to the very last word of the credits, I was engrossed with the story.
Anyone who has been a reader since they were a child will understand Josh's fascination and love for the library. He talks about his first visit, when he was little and with his mother, and I was taken back to my own childhood, and my first visit. My mom would plop me in the seat on the back of her bike, and away we would go. We would pick out our books and take them across the street to the park, where we would read them and have a snack. Then back on the bike and zoom we were home.
Josh's love of reading sustained him. Books and words and even Stephen King kept his Tourette's at bay- although he would still experience tics, his total absorption of the story he was reading kept the tics from overtaking him.
I felt a kinship with this man, although I am not tall, I am actually on the short side; I don't have Tourette Syndrome, I am not Mormon, and I am a wimp that can't open a jar. Our own personal histories also have experiences in common. My husband and I rode the emotional roller coaster of miscarriages and failed adoptions. My first crush was on a fictional character as well, and one that was not even human - Stuart from The Rescuers. Bizarre, I know. Charlotte's Web greatly influenced my life. And I read Stephen King before I should have. Except my mom was ok with it.
I wanted a win for this man. I was rooting for him. I think he has some amazing parents, and an amazing wife. Hanagarne has an amazing spirit. Alternately funny, especially the stories of what happens in the library he works at, and painfully, vulnerably honest.
Inspiring and powerful, I think this book should be read by everyone. Do we get the win? Although its still a bit murky, I believe so.