How Now, Bookworms?
Y’all know how much I love a good humorous memoir. David Sedaris, Jenny Lawson, Tina Fey, Rachel Dratch, Mindy Kaling? I love hearing about real people’s lives. I am voyeuristic and nosy. I’ll own up to it. Thus, when I was offered a copy of The World’s Strongest Librarian by Johs Hanagarne, I couldn’t pass it up.
Full Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I was offered a copy by a literary agent through NetGalley, which made my ego soar because I AM NOT INVISIBLE. That said, the price of my integrity is a lot higher than an unfinished galley copy of a book, so you need not worry about me lying about liking or hating a book. Expensive soul, right here. (It would take like 4 real unicorns, a flock of housebroken penguins, a time machine, and eleventy billion dollars to get me to lie about a book… At that point nobody would believe anything I said anyway though, thanks to the unicorns…)
Sometimes I think I should write a book about my life. Then I realize it would be like “hey look at me! I’m pretty average! I’m so average it’s actually boring… Sometimes there were tutus?” The trick to writing a great memoir is having a good story, and Josh Hanagarne has lived a fascinating life.
First things first. Josh has Tourette’s Syndrome. There’s a pretty lame stereotype floating around that portrays people with Tourette’s running around spouting outbursts of profanity. It’s so much more than that, and most vocal tics don’t manifest as curse words… It’s involuntary muscle spasms. Twitches. Vocal tics of nonsense words. Hanagrarne describes the tics as being similar to the buildup of a sneeze. Can you imagine how frustrating that would be? Constant sneeze buildups? Oh my WORD! Despite his struggles with Tourette’s, Hanagarne had a happy childhood. The Hanagarne family ADORES and SUPPORTS Josh. Sure, there was some teasing in school, but the feeling of home as sanctuary was palpable. Now, I’m not saying that EVERYONE has horrifying parents like Jeanette Walls did, but most of the real life parents I’ve read about certainly have some shortcomings. While the Hanagarne parentals did have a few quirks, they all combined to make them fantastic parents. It was sweet, but not in an annoying way. It just made me want to hug them all and want to be invited over for dinner.
Hanagarne was raised in the Mormon church. Like anyone else, I’ve known people of the LDS faith, but I avoid discussing religion as a general rule. Theological debate makes me uncomfortable (only because it tends to make people defensive and/or confrontational, and I don’t like arguing), so I prefer to learn about other faiths from behind the safety of a book. I got a whole new perspective on what being a Mormon is all about, and how potentially difficult it could be for someone who was experiencing a crisis of faith. Hanagarne showcases the positive and negative aspects of his experience with honesty and balance.
There’s also stuff about weight lifting and exercise and how that helped/hindered the treatment of the Tourette’s. Dude is HUGE! He’s like super tall and trains like a boss with weights and kettlebells. He even does those awesome highland games competitions where they wear kilts and throw giant rocks. It’s kind of awesome.
Finally? LIBRARY LOVE! Hanagarne has a love affair with the library starting from a very young age. He also had a crush on Fern from Charlotte’s Web which is quite possibly the most adorable thing I’ve ever heard. He’s a literature junky his entire life and ends up working in a library! This book contained everything a good memoir should: humor, humility, joy, sadness, frustration, and acceptance. FEELINGS! I’ve got them. So does Josh Hanagarne… Only he is more articulate than I could ever be. Hats off to you, sir. Keep on keeping on.
So, Bookworms, I must know. What would the title of your memoir be?