Josh Hanagarne couldn’t be invisible if he tried. Although he wouldn’t officially be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until his freshman year of high school, Josh was six years old and onstage in a school Thanksgiving play when he first began exhibiting symptoms. By the time he was twenty, the young Mormon had reached his towering adult height of 6’7” when—while serving on a mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints—his Tourette’s tics escalated to nightmarish levels.
Determined to conquer his affliction, Josh underwent everything from quack remedies to lethargy-inducing drug regimes to Botox injections that paralyzed his vocal cords and left him voiceless for three years. Undeterred, Josh persevered to marry and earn a degree in Library Science. At last, an eccentric, autistic strongman—and former Air Force Tech Sergeant and guard at an Iraqi prison—taught Josh how to “throttle” his tics into submission through strength-training.
Today, Josh is a librarian in the main branch of Salt Lake City’s public library and founder of a popular blog about books and weight lifting—and the proud father of four-year-old Max, who has already started to show his own symptoms of Tourette’s.
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, this unlikely hero traces his journey to overcome his disability— and navigate his wavering Mormon faith—to find love and create a life worth living.
This is a wonderfully entertaining memoir, which, though it does deal with a conditioning as misunderstood and frustrating as Tourette Syndrome, still manages to stay light and funny.
Josh, the author and narrator, is an engaging voice that catches our attention from the very first page. He has a self-deprecating humor that really makes the story flow well, without letting it get as heavy as it might otherwise be. He just has a way with phrases.
The way the book is set up, with anecdotes from Josh’s job as a librarian at the beginning of each chapter followed by a chronological narrative of his life, was particularly pleasant for me to read since it allowed us to get little tastes of the future. The writing itself was simple and efficient, with humor always leading the way.
I can easily recommend this book to everyone who loves memoirs and nonfiction books. Definitely a fun and enlightening read.