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.
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Confession: I kept putting this book farther and farther down my stack. Why? Because the cover actually gives you a list of the issues Josh Hanagarne covers in his memoir — Tourette’s syndrome, Mormonism, strength and the power of family. And the image of the weightlifter toting a huge stack of books implies weight training is somewhere in them mix with the word “strength.” A disastrous recipe for a book, if you ask me.
Then I started reading reviews on my book blogging friend’s blogs, at Amazon and Goodreads, and in newsworthy items. Everyone was raving about this book. I moved it to the top of the stack to see what I was missing.
Who knew they were talking about the book that lands at the top of My Favorites for 2013. Yes, Josh Hanagarne’s The World’s Strongest Librarian, is not a book to be missed.
With a wonderful use of humor and personal effrontery at times, Hanagarne shares his life with Tourette’s, the disadvantages, the advantages (at times), and the conflicts it potentially can cause in personal relationships and employment. Add to Tourette’s that he stands 6’7″. And he shares the battle he faces with his doubts about his family’s Mormon faith. His is a life with many challenges.
Yet Hanagarne copes amazingly well, providing the reader with a role model for facing the normal ups and downs of life. His grace in the face of all life has dealt him is a beautiful quality that comes through in his easy, conversational writing style. I wanted him to jump out of the book and sit down with me to talk face-to-face. You can’t help but like this man!
I am so glad I picked up this book and read it. It is a wonderful gift from the author to his readers. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Definitely a must-read!
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Meet 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.
Josh Hanagarne believes in curiosity, questions, and strength, and that things are never so bad that they can’t improve. He is a librarian at the Salt Lake City Public Library and lives with his wife, Janette, and their son, Max, in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Also: He wants you to read everything by Mark Twain.
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I received a copy of The World’s Strongest Librarian from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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UP NEXT: My review of Whistling Past the Graveyard by Susan Crandall.