Sunday, May 05, 2013

Book Review: The World's Strongest Librarian

In his recently published autobiography, The World's Strongest Librarian, Josh Hanagarne shares his experience navigating life with Tourette Syndrome, how libraries and librarians changed his life, and his understanding of (and some struggles with) the Mormon culture and faith. Josh's great love and admiration for his parents weaves its way throughout the book, especially during times that could try any parent's patience. The book, like Josh's long-standing blog of the same name, is a well-written work that honestly tackles thorough self-examination with a great deal of humor.

It cannot be understated how inspiring and moving this work is. Many books share extraordinary stories of ordinary individuals beating the odds, surviving terrible disasters, and so on. One aspect of this book's appeal is the accessible way Josh explains what seem like monumental challenges with Tourette's. He has a definite voice, and while I would like to say his humor is self-deprecating, it really isn't. It just doesn't come at his expense, and I am glad of it. He pokes fun at funny situations, and I laugh right along with him. Out loud at times.

Another fun (well, fun for those of us who work in public libraries) example of Josh's humor is the use of Dewey Decimal subject headings at the start of each chapter. They provide a concise description of where he would catalog the chapter in his library and a bit of a visual joke. Speaking of the library, I especially enjoy the descriptions of his interactions with patrons at the main branch of the Salt Lake City Library. (If you haven't been, I suggest a visit the next time you're in town as it is an architectural marvel worth exploring.)

From Salt Lake City July 2009

I have been a quiet fan of Josh's writing since 2009, when I first read his unique blog. He provided this blog with an excellent guest post, A World Without Calendars. He's been guest posting in loads of places these days and has been touring the U.S. speaking and signing his book for appreciative audiences. If you have the chance, go see him, especially if he is reading from his book. There's nothing like hearing an author read his or her own work. And, don't forget to pick up a copy of The World's Strongest Librarian.