The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne

Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.

Title: The World’s Strongest Librarian
Author: Josh Hanagarne
Publisher: Gotham Books
Expected Release: May 2, 2013
Source: publisher (NetGalley)

Brief Synopsis:

An inspiring story of how a Mormon kid with Tourette’s found salvation in books and weight-lifting.

The World’s Strongest Librarian illuminates the mysteries of this little-understood disorder, as well as the very different worlds of strongman training and modern libraries. With humor and candor, Josh Hanagarne traces his journey to overcome his disability— and navigate his wavering Mormon faith—to find love and create a life worth living.

Read a full synopsis and watch the book trailer here, or enter the giveaway at the bottom of this page. TWO lucky readers will receive a hardcover copy of The World’s Strongest Librarian from Gotham Books! Contest ends April 29, 2013.

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. Hanagarne describes the way his tics took control of his body with such clarity, I found myself feeling tense and frustrated for him as I read.

I took a lot of notes: I marked things I want to look into and learn more about, wrote down books I want to read, books I’ve already read long ago and want to rediscover, and quotes that inspired me. (Of course a book by a librarian is going to add to your to-be-read pile!)

There are no dysfunctional family stories in this memoir; Josh Hanagarne has an amazing support system. You will love his parents! Even during its heartbreaking moments, The World’s Strongest Librarian is full of love, hope, perseverance, and humor. This is an encouraging read you do not want to miss.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any other compensation for this review.


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  • Yay for The World’s Strongest Librarian! It was so refreshing wasn’t it? Just a great book 🙂

    • It really was! I almost passed on this one, I’m SO glad I didn’t.

  • I’m going to have to read this! I think one of the best things about being a librarian is that I do get to learn something about everything.

    We’ve had a couple of friends with Tourette’s and it’s a difficult thing to deal with. I’m interesting in reading more.

    • I loved that point in the book, about librarians getting to learn something about everything. And really, about libraries offering that opportunity to all of us!

  • Based on your review and one other, I’ve just put in a hold request for this book at my library. You’ve calmed my worry about the weight-lifting aspect (not a sport that holds much interest for me), and I’m delighted to hear that the book is both funny and (reading between the lines) heartwarming. Great review!

    • Heartwarming is a great adjective for this one! I’m sure you’ll love it. 🙂