You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe


Book Review

‘The World’s Strongest Librarian’ by Josh Hanagarne

It’s hard to imagine what it’s like to have Tourette’s syndrome, to be unable to contain tics and often harsh-sounding vocalizations in public. There are only so many words to explain an urge, an involuntary reaction — and there are limits to what can be imagined by someone who isn’t afflicted. In “The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of the Family,” Josh Hanagarne does an impressive job. Hanagarne, a librarian in Salt Lake City, talks about his experiences growing up with the disorder — and tells quite a memorable story along the way.

Hanagarne was a very tall, very awkward boy in a Mormon family in rural Utah and other parts of the Southwest. Raised by parents who were both very much jokers but also, when the situation called for it, no-nonsense, Hanagarne was inculcated with an offbeat sense of humor, a deeply skeptical, questioning nature, and an intense love of books. All three shine through in his memoir, which traces his winding path from childhood to his current, stable life — a path that weaves through varying degrees of belief in Mormonism, the early, scary days of his Tourette’s diagnosis, and unlikely adult interests in weight lifting and library science.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week