Saturday, June 1, 2013

Book Review: "The World's Strongest Librarian"

"The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength and the Power of Family" by Josh Hanagarne
First published in 2013
291 pages
My rating: 4.5 out of 5
(image source)

Before I ever opened "The World's Strongest Librarian" I was all set to love it. I mean, it has pictures of books on the cover and the word "librarian" in the title. And when I laughed out loud several times in the first chapter, I knew it was a winner.

Josh Hanagarne is a reference librarian at a public library in Salt Lake City, but he doesn't look or act like your stereotypical librarian. He's a man, for one thing, and at 6'7" an imposing man at that. But a library -- a quiet place by nature -- is the last place you'd expect Josh to work because he has Tourette Syndrome, which fills his days with uncontrollable tics ranging from rapid blinking and issuing random whoops and hollers all the way to chewing the inside of his cheeks raw and punching himself in the face. Josh is also a former-ish Mormon and a weight-lifter. In short, he's a Very Interesting Person.

He's also very funny, witty and self-deprecating, and he tells lots of hilarious stories about library patrons --  true gems that I could definitely relate to or at least totally imagine happening at my library job. But "Strongest Librarian" is also insightful, forthright and full of love. Josh is so passionate about books and the power of knowledge. He honestly describes his struggle with his religion. And he is strong in ways far more important than being able rip a phone book in half. The way he's dealt with his Tourette's, though not without struggles, is truly inspiring.

While I really enjoyed Josh's life story -- from his childhood (and adulthood) obsession with Stephen King to his Tourette's diagnosis to his Mormon wedding to competing in a Highland Games strongman competition and everything in between -- his awesome writing is what made the book. It's obvious that he's a book lover, because this memoir reads like a novel more often than not.
I definitely recommend "The World's Strongest Librarian." It will leave you laughing, thoughtful and maybe even a little bit in awe.

1 comment:

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