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Books

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.

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