The World’s Strongest Librarian

by Josh Hanagarne
First sentence: “Today the library was hot, humid, and smelly.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There’s some mild swearing, including a half-dozen (or so) f-bombs. I think older teenagers — especially ones that are struggling with education — would really like this one. It’s in the biography section at the bookstore.

As soon as this came out, I knew I wanted to read it. It’s about a Mormon, a librarian, and a man who has Tourette Syndrome. Granted, it’s been out for a while and it took my book group to get me to read it (too many other things to read; no excuse!), but I’m very (very!) glad I did.

It’s a straight-up memoir of Hanagarne’s experiences growing up. He was raised LDS (I loved his family; he’s got great parents), and struggled with tics as a result of Tourette’s throughout growing up. He wasn’t officially diagnosed until he was a teenager, but it was a part of his life. He found books though (yay, books!) and that helped give him a sense of purpose and direction. Though his life wasn’t easy: it took him 10 years to graduate from college; he kept dropping out because his Tourette’s made it difficult for him to focus.

It was a fascinating tale, not only of his faith journey — he has had some good leaders in his life — but of his personal journey trying to figure out how to handle his increasingly worsening Tourette’s. And it’s a very hopeful book: Hanagarne has managed to create a life for himself that works, in spite of (maybe because of) the obstacles in his way. He did an incredible job helping me picture what life with Tourette’s is like (not fun).

In addition — and perhaps this was my favorite part — Haragarne splices his personal story with ones from working at the Salt Lake City library, which helped break up the stories from the past and were highly interesting and entertaining.

It’s an odd book, probably not for everyone. But I found it be thought-provoking and fascinating.

One thought on “The World’s Strongest Librarian

  1. I enjoyed this one. It dragged a bit in the middle, but loved his perseverance in the end. I could have been to just stay on that couch and feel sorry for himself. Also inspired me to work harder to search out the coaches/mentors that ask the right questions.


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