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The World's Strongest Librarian: A Book Lover's Adventures Paperback – May 6, 2014

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Josh Hanagarne is a remarkable man. He is a librarian, a follower of the Mormon faith, has Tourette’s syndrome, and can deadlift 600 pounds. In this moving memoir, Hanagarne shows his readers what it is like to live with a severe form of Tourette’s and how, with patience, love, and support from his family, he was able to build a rich, full life. With the onset of Tourette’s, Hanagarne found a source of joy and delight and a welcome escape in books. He chronicles the increasing severity of his Tourette’s, which forces him to leave his Mormon mission early and affects his pursuit of higher education. Hanagarne is open about his struggles, from his questioning of his faith, through the difficulties in his marriage, to his dogged determination to challenge himself to persevere and become a librarian. Throughout, his optimism and amusing, self-deprecating sense of humor shine through. An excellent and uplifting story on accepting and coping with lifelong disabilities, of particular interest to librarians. --Eve Gaus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Josh Hanagarne is a remarkable man…. In this moving memoir, Hanagarne shows his readers what it is like to live with a severe form of Tourette’s and how, with patience, love, and support from his family, he was able to build a rich, full life. Throughout, his optimism and amusing, self-deprecating sense of humor shine through. An excellent and uplifting story on accepting and coping with lifelong disabilities, of particular interest to librarians.”
Booklist

“Wildly quirky memoir of facing down his ferocious Tourette’s tics…Hanagarne’s account manages to be very gag-full and tongue-in-cheek…highly engaging…Reconciled with Tourette’s, Hanagarne never let the disease get the upper hand.”
Publishers Weekly

"A sumptuous read, as funny, erudite, and energizing as a chat with a conversational intellectual, as engrossing and moving as a medical detective drama… The book leaves all of us who've read it feeling a little stronger and brighter ourselves."
—Martha Beck, Author of Expecting Adam, Leaving the Saints, and Finding Your Way in a Wild New World
 
“Just like the library has every funny, beautiful, moving, wise story you'd ever need in it, so too does this book. This is not just your ordinary memoir: it is a soaring, inspiring elegy to the small and big miracles of parenthood and friendship and marriage and how they triumph over the not so small challenges of life. It is a perfect, perfect gem of a read, unputdownable, unforgettable, unmatchable.”
—Pam Allyn, author of What to Read When
 
"Josh Hanagarne inspires in his pursuit to break the shackles of Tourette Syndrome and live his life to the fullest, as a husband, a father and a librarian.  Insightful, heart-wrenching and delightfully humorous, The World’s Strongest Librarian is a triumph!"
—Cory MacLauchlin, author of Butterfly In The Typewriter: The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and The Remarkable Story of A Confederacy of Dunces.
 
“As a gym rat myself, I can attest to the power of hurling one's sinews against heavy stuff that keeps wanting to slam you back into the floor.  The difference with Josh Hanagarne is he has lifted much weightier impediments--Tourette's, loneliness, geekitude, and the calling to be a writer.  That he is, and a talent to savor, to emulate, and to be inspired by.”
—Steven Pressfield, bestselling author of The War of Art and Turning Pro
 
"Josh Hanagarne has an astonishing story to tell, and he does so with insight, humor, grace, and wonder.  All human beings suffer and struggle.  Through the lens of his own miraculous experiences, Mr. Hanagarne illuminates the path to joy and the infinite possibilities of transcendence."
—Melanie Rae Thon, author of Sweet Hearts
 
“A truly interesting, engaging, and fascinating memoir.”
—Joe Lansdale, author of Edge of Dark Water
 
“Josh's special struggles to deal with his own doubts, Tourette's and society give his journey a patina of honesty, resilience, and a flavor of humanity that truly inspires. Josh has a unique voice and I was privileged to read and be empowered by his story.”
—Stephen Abram, VP of Gale Cengage Learning
 
“A funny, profound, emotionally generous, and wonderfully human story.”
—Lou Schuler, author of The New Rules of Lifting
 
“Everything about this book is big: certainly it is the story of a 6' 7" librarian with Tourette’s, but it is also the quest for how we know, how we feel and how we love... without reservation. I found it impossible to put down; save a day to read this.”
—Dan John, author of Intervention
 
“Josh Hanagarne is a giant of a man and a giant of a writer… This guy is the real freaking deal in a very fresh and exciting way."
—Larry Brooks, author of Story Engineering
 
“Witty and upbeat voice … fun (and inspiring) reading.”
Library Journal



"The whole of this delightfully rich and unconventional gem of a book is even greater than the sum of its parts. Read it and laugh and learn." 
The Washington Post
 
“Fearless and funny.”
—NewYorker.com
 
“An inspiring, often funny tale about the power of persistence.”
People
 
“Read this book and then go hug a librarian!”
—Anne Holman, The King's English Bookshop
 
“Joyfully celebrates books and reading.”
BookPage
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham; Reprint edition (May 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159240877X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592408771
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (191 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #327,214 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Josh Hanagarne fell in love with Fern from Charlotte's Web at the age of six. Every day since, he has enjoyed reading more than eating, sleeping, and breathing. Today the 6'7" Hanagarne is an author, speaker, performing strongman, and, despite having an extreme case of Tourette Syndrome, he works as a public librarian in Salt Lake City Utah. His memoir, The World's Strongest Librarian, is his first book.

Also: He wants you to read everything by Mark Twain.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Hartling on May 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Tourette Syndrome, strength training, Mormonism, and literature. Doesn't that sound like the craziest combo of topics you ever heard of? Guess what? It absolutely works. It all comes together beautifully in one of the best memoirs I've had the pleasure of reading.

Hanagarne has a comedic gift. None of the topics that he covers are supposed to be funny but I found myself snort laughing throughout much of this book. The section in which he describes putting the stud in bible study nearly made me fall off my chair. Hanagarne faces his medical condition and other obstacles with humor and inspiring grace.

As I read this book I kept trying to read sections aloud to people around me. "Listen to this!" "Oh! Let me read you this section about his parents!" (I seriously want to take his folks out to dinner, they sound like marvelous people.)

I'm not a Mormon. I don't have Tourette Syndrome. Yet I felt such a connection with Josh Hanagrane. It might be his love for the written word. It might be that he also read Stephen King when he was much too young to do so. He's a regular guy that loves his family and wants to do the best he can by them. We can all relate to that. In addition, he can tell a damn fine story.

It was a privilege to read The World's Strongest Librarian. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Linda Hanagarne on May 21, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Can a mother be objective about her son's writing as he expresses his feelings about his life? Does that review help one other person? I don't know. I do know that as I read the book I relived some of the very difficult and joyful times in Josh's life. It is an interesting juxtaposition of events that have shaped him to be the man he is. Josh hates to be labeled courageous, but courage in the face of extreme adversity is what this book is about. Who can't be inspired by someone who perseveres when it would be easy to give up? Our whole family started this journey with Josh asking "When will his Tourettes go away so he can have a life?" to realizing "How can we help him have a life with Tourettes?" was really the question. Josh has accomplished many worthwhile things in his life and still has many great things to accomplish. We are an imperfect family, we have problems like everyone else does, and we love each other deeply. I love Josh. I respect Josh's right to make his own choices in this life and am very proud of him and his book. It's an amazing, interesting, funny, sad, inspiring read whether you are his mother or anyone else. Linda Hanagarne
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Monika on May 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I enjoy reading memoirs, but I wasn't sure what to expect from The World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family. I viewed the book trailer, and Josh Hanagarne struck me as genuine, intelligent, and very interesting. That trailer was amazing, and definitely made me want to read the book.

I'm so glad I did! I expected to like this book just fine, but ended up feeling blown away. I loved it! Weight-lifting, Tourette's, and the Mormon faith? Many readers (myself included) may not know much about these things. Josh Hanagarne has a way of giving readers the information they need in order to know what he's talking about, and just a bit more for interest and to realize why it's relevant to his story. He never bogs down the reader with too many details, which was one of my concerns, knowing weight-lifting was a part of his story. But even as much as I normally hate reading anything related to sports, I enjoyed reading every word of this book.

I love Hanagarne's sense of humor, especially when confronted by "shrill athiests" or in a community council meeting, which I totally pictured as an episode of Parks and Recreation!. We're about the same age, and I was tickled to see references to Dragonball Z, MC Hammer, and - my favorite! - the Sweet Valley Twins. I think the majority of avid readers will identify with Josh's thirst for knowledge, that desire to learn "something about everything." I think they'll also appreciate his beautifully stated argument as to why "physical libraries always need to exist in some form."

Before reading this memoir, I had very superficial knowledge of Tourette Syndrome. What an eye-opener! I had no idea how severe Tourette's could be.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By M. Carroll on May 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I could not have guessed that my favorite read this year would be about a Mormon Librarian Strongman with severe Tourette Syndrome. I was trying to describe the author and my love for his book to my family at dinner, and they said Wait. What? It's that kind of book, full of unlikely and fascinating juxtapositions, and among my very favorite memoirs. It's hard for me to separate out how much of my praise for this book is based on how much I like the author and his voice, and his love of books, or how much his story and world view and his struggle to find his way resonated with me.

Josh writes in a forthright, honest, sparse manner, describing his childhood, his work and the characters he meets in the public library, his love of books and stories, his supportive family and his struggle to gain some control over his body, which rarely obeys his wishes. Finding strength training gives him moments of calm and a needed distraction from his daily struggles for normalcy.

I found Josh's story to be at times funny, thought provoking, shocking and heart warming, and was moved to tears several times, but in a good way. I highly recommend this memoir and hope it finds an eager audience. I'm very grateful to the LibraryThing early reviewer program for the advanced copy.
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