22 August 2013

Book Review No. 76 ~ The World's Strongest Librarian

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

Summary:  A funny, book-obsessed kid, Josh Hanagarne was born to Mormon parents in rural Utah.  He plotted escape to Piers Anthony's magical land of Xanth, freaked himself out with Stephen King's Pet Sematary, and fell feverishly in love with Fern from E.B. White's Charlotte's Web.  Large for his age, Josh was playing the role of Tree in his elementary school play when he suddenly started twitching uncontrollably.  Turns out the tree had Tourette Syndrome.  By the time Josh turned twenty, his tics had become too drastic to ignore.  Desperate for liberation, Josh tried all possible treatments:  well-intentioned chiropractic massage from a future convict; antipsychotic drugs that left him in a fog; even Botox injected directly into his vocal cords to paralyze them, which left him voiceless for two years.  The results were dismal.  As his tics worsened, the list of casualties grew:  Josh's relationship with his girlfriend, his Mormon mission, his college career, countless jobs, his sense of self, and--slowly but relentlessly--his faith.  It turned out to be weight lifting that provided the most lasting relief, as Josh learned to "throttle" his tics into submission in the weight room.  Under guidance from an eccentric, autistic strongman--and former Air Force tech sergeant and prison guard in Iraq--Josh quickly went from lifting dumbbells and barbells to performing increasingly elaborate feats (like rolling up frying pans and bending spikes).  What started as a hobby became an entire way of life--and an effective way of managing his disorder.  At an imposing 6'7" and literally incapable of sitting still, Josh is certainly not your average librarian.  He is an aspiring strongman, bookish nerd, twitchy guy with Tourette Syndrome, devoted family man, and tearer of phone books.  A tall, think paradox in thick glasses.  Funny and offbeat, The World's Strongest Librarian traces this unlikely hero as he attempts to overcome his disability, navigate his wavering faith, find love, and create a life worth living.  (taken from book jacket)

First Lines:  "Today the library was hot, humid, and smelly.  It was like working inside a giant pair of glass underpants without any leg holes to escape through."  (something I can certainly relate to at my library)

My Critique:  I was fortunate enough to sit in on a session titled Quirky Books for Quirkier Librarians at the annual conference of the American Library Association in Chicago in late June.  It was in this session that I heard Josh speak and I have to say, that single 10-minute speech was probably the most moving and touching speech I've ever witnessed in person and was by far the most memorable thing of the entire conference.  Josh has such an enigmatic personality and charisma that draws you in and makes you feel as if you've been friends for years even if you've never actually met in person and you're just watching from the back row...as was my case.  I knew the book would be a laugh-out-loud kind of book so when I found myself audibly chuckling while reading I wasn't surprised.  What I was not prepared for, however, was the tears I found myself wiping away after reading about certain struggles he (and his wife) have faced.  I won't say more but this book drew me in...in the same way a novel might draw you in.  I found it entertaining, informative, fascinating, humorous, touching, and well worth the read.  Even if you're not a fan of non-fiction (i.e. ME), I highly recommend you read this book.  

You can thank me later for introducing you to this book.  heehee

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in the afore mentioned book, The World's Strongest Librarian, are the sole views and opinions of the author and have nothing to do with me or my own views/opinions/beliefs...so get off my back. I am in no way affiliated with with afore mentioned author...except that one time in Vegas------------oh wait, ummm, nevermind.......

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