Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne

Book: The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne
Genre: Memoir
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
For: Review
From: the publisher Gotham Books (book to be released May 2, 2013)

First a little background story:

So one day someone at work (at the Orem Library) sent out a mass email which said, "Hey everyone! Here's a fun librarian blog you might like. It's by a guy who works at the Salt Lake Library!".... or something like that. Two things caught my eye... first that he's a blogger of bookish things, so why did I not know of him!?? (I mean, really.) And second he's a librarian at a (sort of-ish) local library.

And then, when I clicked on the link provided, the blog post up top was suggesting two wonderful book blogs to read! And those ones I WAS familiar with. So now I really wondered why I hadn't stumbled upon his blog before.

So I looked around the blog and loved it. Very fun stuff, lots of library stories, lots of book recommendations, quite funny and just lots of things that made me happy. And also, there was a bit about the fact that he had written a book that was coming out soon. Cool, I thought. Sounds like a fun book, I thought. But that's all I did, just the thinking.

Then, only a week or so later I get an email from the publisher wondering if I'd like a copy to review.  Are you kidding me? I was so excited! I couldn't say yes fast enough. Because, did you pay attention above? Blogger! Librarian! Local!

After it arrived, I put away all other books I had going and read this one in just a couple of sittings. It had me from the first page and spoke to me on many levels.

In the book, Josh talks about his growing up years, how his mom instilled in him the love of books and reading, how he started having tics around age six and how those tics turned into one of the worst full blown cases of Tourette's Syndrome ever, and how he finally figured out that he could manage it by lifting weights, and how he struggled to decide what he should do with his life and then he settled on working in a library, tics and all, and add to that his and his wife's struggle with infertility and how his family and LDS faith got him through so much of the drama, and yet how he still struggles with it all...the tics, the church, etc.

Add to all that an abundant dose of humor and you've got a really fun and inspiring story.

So how do I relate to these stories? Of course I related to the love of books and the love of libraries. I also could relate to all the Mormon church stories, and the upbringing there... very very familiar situations, even the wondering bits. I love how he portrays the church in a good yet realistic light. I loved, totally loved the library patron stories even though in my job at the library, I don't deal with patrons, but I sure hear about those that do! Funny stuff! (Beware some harsh language during these stories, he quotes the lovely patrons directly!) Even the Tourette's I can relate to, having extending family members who also deal with this. The only thing that was unfamiliar territory was the whole lifting weights thing, which I found fascinating in its connection to the Tourette's.

In fact, the whole melding of all these elements make for a fascinating memoir of this basically ordinary guy who just happens to be an LDS weightlifting librarian with Tourette's!

And did I tell you it was funny? Even with the hard things he's gone through, he weaves humor in and amongst all the stories. Awesome.

Bottom line: I loved it, every bit! In fact, I'm quite sure it will end up on my top ten of the year.

Other Reviews:

None of the topics that he covers are supposed to be funny but I found myself snort laughing throughout much of this book. From The Relentless Reader

Josh’s memoir is thoughtful, heartfelt, often hilarious– and unsparingly honest. From Pages of Julia's Blog

As I read the last word of this memoir, all I could do was close my eyes like a happy, contented reader and think, "Yes." From The Well-Read Redhead

Being a librarian isn’t about knowing just about books, but learning how to deal with all walks of life. From As the Page Turns

But do yourself a favor- when this book comes out in May, buy it, read it, love it, and recommend it to anyone you know. You won’t be sorry you did. From GenerationgBooks

Words from the strongest librarian himself:


  1. I loved this one!!! Enjoyed reading your review!

  2. Definitely adding this one to my list. It sounds great!

  3. This was highlighted in Book Page this month! Can't wait to read it.

  4. This one is coming up on my TBR pile....looking forward to it - especially after reading your review. :)

  5. Great review! One of my students and his dad suffer from Tourette's as well as another friend. I can't wait to read this and share it.

    Now to check out the log and see what else this guy has up his sleeve. As usual you tempt me with more....

  6. I loved this book right to bits! I hope that every bookish person in the land reads it :)

  7. Wonderful review! Definitely adding this to my to-read list.

  8. My library just sent me a notification that I can pick up my copy - FINALLY!

  9. I loved this book, too, and I love your review. I'm going to add a link to yours to my review. I used to work in an urban library and could definitely identify with his stories about the patrons!



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