The World's Strongest Librarian

A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family

Hanagarne, Josh

Book - 2013
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The World's Strongest Librarian
The story of how a Mormon kid with Tourette's found salvation in books and weight-lifting.

Publisher: New York, New York :, Gotham Books,, [2013]
ISBN: 9781592407873
Branch Call Number: 020.92 H2337w 2013
Characteristics: x, 291 pages ;,25 cm


From Library Staff

An all time favorite and a new appreciation of the challenges of a medical condition. Also very honest and funny!

Join the discussion on Oct. 17, 2014. The story of how a Mormon kid with Tourette's syndrome found salvation in books and weight-lifting.

I finished this book cover to cover in a rare night of binge reading. You don't have to work in a library to enjoy this new author's turn of phrase or his personal reflections on life, parenting, faith, and struggle for control of ones destiny. -Kris

Traces the public librarian author's inspiring story as a Mormon youth with Tourette's Syndrome who after a sequence of radical and ineffective treatments overcame nightmarish tics through education, military service, and strength training.

From the critics

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Oct 24, 2014
  • DorisWaggoner rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Humorous, poignant memoir of a man who was bullied as a kid for his size and clumsiness, to say nothing of the fact that he was a Mormon. In high school his clumsiness and tics were diagnosed as Tourette's syndrome, but he was given no way of dealing with it. This stretched his faith to the breaking point, which he tried to hide from his pious mother. He went on his Mission, but it made him physically ill, and he was sent home. This failure lost him his girl. Somehow, libraries became his refuge, and a career as a librarian gave him hope. So did a loving Mormon wife who accepted his wavering faith, and a son who gave him something to live for. Weight lifting, and an autistic weight lifter teaches him how to breathe through his worst tics. He's able to avoid self-pity, and comes to understanding and self acceptance.

Jan 29, 2014
  • ser_library rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

i learned about Tourette Syndrome and enjoyed the comments on life in a public library

Dec 25, 2013
  • bibliotechnocrat rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

921 - damn fine autobiography. A giant (613.7) Mormon (289.3) with Tourette's (616.83) becomes a librarian (021.65).... Say what? Sounds like the opening line of a joke, but the pages turn themselves in this compelling book.

Raised in a Mormon household, the book-obsessed author learns to value family and faith. But beyond support and care, his family cannot offer much help with the alien landscape of Tourette Syndrome. And, as he matures, his faith becomes less an anchor than an albatross.

Hanagarne discovers that weights and strength training can be used as a way to control the symptoms of his disease, and so becomes the world's strongest librarian. His journey takes him to unexpected places and to interactions with unexpected people. I love the autistic Air Force Sergeant who bends horse shoes and who teaches Hanagarne to ask questions. It's a story of hope and love. Don't miss it.

Jul 09, 2013
  • AdoreBooks rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is one of my (new) favorite books of all time. I have loved the library since I was a kid and this book celebrates libraries. Also an endearing story of Josh's life with Tourette's.

Jul 01, 2013
  • bette108 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A delight to read - this personal memoir is humorous and insightful. I especially liked Hanagarne's theory (and passion) about libraries and their role in society.

Jun 23, 2013
  • Woodstockgirl rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I loved this book! I can't really explain why though. There was just something so appealing about this book. I really liked that the Dewey Decimal System was used in the subtitles of each chapter. (I have been shelving books at the school library for the past three years and have gotten very familiar with the Dewey Decimal System.) I found Hanagarne's honesty about everything very refreshing. His family was wonderful and so supportive of everything that he tried. There were some really quirky librarian stories that I totally enjoyed and reading about his Tourette's made me realize that I need to be less judgmental and more understanding of others.

Jun 22, 2013
  • tdmenten1 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

While the details of the author's life are interesting, Hanagarne does not write them together in an overly compelling fashion. While he claims that libraries are magical places, he seems to hate every single moment of working in a public library, and this is never fully examined. The power lifting & its relationship to Tourette's is the most interesting part of the book - wish there was narrative related to it. Overall, the narrative framing of the book is ineffective, causing an uneven connection to the author and his plight.

Jun 21, 2013
  • countdonkula rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

I related to Josh in so many ways, I started to think the book was written just for me. Very uplifting story.

Jun 12, 2013
  • Cdnbookworm rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Josh has struggled with his Tourette's for most of his life, and is still figuring out what he can do to minimize the tics that manifest the condition. He has had the support of his family behind him all the way, and found a career that encompasses his love of books, his dedication to helping others, and his curious nature. He is not afraid to ask for help, and take it when it is offered to him. He belongs to the Mormon faith and while he sometimes questions things within that, he believes in the tenets of LDS strongly and lives his life following them. One of the ways he has addressed his Tourette's over the years is weight-lifting. It helped for a while and then it didn't and he looked for help from others, and discovered that thinking about movement was a big help. The book moves nicely back and forth from memoir and life at the library. The memoir part starts at the beginning and moves forward. The library part uses experiences to connect with the memoir. He uses DDC (Dewey Decimal Classification) as chapter headings to indicate the contents of each chapter. Josh sounds like a really interesting guy and while our taste in books may not always coincide, I think we approach librarianship in similar ways. I found this memoir enlightening, intriguing, and entertaining.

May 30, 2013

Hanagarne can write, especially movingly about being a librarian & about his disability. But a whole section about his struggles when he's stuck could have been cut shorter. His taste in reading--Stephen King, Vonnegut--is typically male. The weightlifting parts just flew over my head.

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Jun 19, 2013
  • gogocarol rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This non-fiction book is amazing! Hanagame explains what it is like to have Tourette's, and describes his journey of learning to live and control it, while exploring his faith, as well as his place in this world. I learned so much! His humor, and how he uses it to describe painful experiences, is inspiring


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