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Book Review: The World’s Strongest Librarian

July 4, 2013

The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family
Josh Hanagarne
Gotham, 291 Pages

This is one of those books that everyone has been recommending to me because of the librarian angle. As expected, the passages where Hanagarne describes the work he does in the library, or reminisces about his lifelong love of books and reading, made me very happy, and made me want to fold down pages to dog-ear passages I especially liked. Also, each of the chapter headings is tied to a Dewey Decimal number, which gave me a nerdy little thrill.

I loved other aspects as well. His memories of growing up in a loving family read as genuine, and were delightful to read.
His descriptions of his, and his family’s faith fascinated me as well… Sometimes, I’m finicky about reading stories of people’s faith. Because faith is personal, and writing about belief can be slippery- too much zeal and it grates and feels lonely to read. Hanagarne captures faith, Mormon life, and times of doubt in a way that felt true to read. As someone whose last experience with Mormonism in pop culture was The Book of Mormon, as in, the raunchy musical, I was intrigued by his explanations.

Descriptions of his experience with Tourette’s were part of his matter-of-fact experience, finding a way  to explain them that was neither clinically detached nor mawkish- hard to do when writing about any kind of body-neurological-disorder experience. Some of the descriptions of tics’ effects on his muscles made me wince to read. I can barely imagine what it must have been like.

In sum: Really interesting, enjoyable read, with a lot going on that worked for me.

Another perspective on the book, a review from my friend Jake, who is a martial artist.

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