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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Book Review: World's Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family

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


I don't remember how I first heard of this book, but it was Liz who recommended I read it. I was planning to anyway, but her recommendation made me push it to the top of the list.

The book's title (or subtitle, anyway) also serves as a pretty good summary. This is Hanagarne's story of growing up with Tourette's in Utah, and how that condition affected his life, his interactions with the Mormon faith, and his career as a librarian. Also, he gets into weightlifting and strongman training, earns an RKC under Pavel, spends a week training with Adam T. Glass, and competes in some Highland games.

There was a lot in this book that resonated with me. Not the Tourette's part, of course, though Hanagarne's descriptions are vivid and compelling enough to give even the relatively ignorant reader (that'd be me) a sense of what living with that condition is like. But the bookworm kid who eventually turns to physical activity to try and gain control over some aspect of his life? Yeah, I could identify with that. Admittedly, I was not raised with the love of libraries that Hanagarne was, though I'm coming into that more lately. I spent a brief stint as a librarian after college, and this is the only book I've ever read that made me wonder if I shouldn't have stuck with that career a bit longer. I might have enjoyed it.

Reading about Hanagarne's struggles with his faith, and the reactions of those around him was interesting as well. Frankly, I know very little about Mormonism, and most of what I know is filtered through East Coast city boy sensibilities, where Mormonism is often presented as a lunatic cult that somehow managed to get its own state. It was nice to get an inside perspective, and one that doesn't make the religion seem much more over the top than most other ones. That sounds odd, I know, but it's the best way I can describe it.

This is a fun and insightful read. Worth checking out.


Lizard's review, for another perspective.

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