Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Finding Salvation in Books and Weight-Lifting


Josh Hanagarne couldn’t be invisible if he tried. Although he wouldn’t officially be diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome until his freshman year of high school, Josh was six years old and onstage in a school Thanksgiving play when he first began exhibiting symptoms. By the time he was twenty, the young Mormon had reached his towering adult height of 6’7” when—while serving on a mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints—his Tourette’s tics escalated to nightmarish levels.

Determined to conquer his affliction, Josh underwent everything from quack remedies to lethargy-inducing drug regimes to Botox injections that paralyzed his vocal cords and left him voiceless for three years. Undeterred, Josh persevered to marry and earn a degree in Library Science. At last, an eccentric, autistic strongman—and former Air Force Tech Sergeant and guard at an Iraqi prison—taught Josh how to “throttle” his tics into submission through strength-training.

Today, Josh is a librarian in the main branch of Salt Lake City’s public library and founder of a popular blog about books and weight lifting—and the proud father of four-year-old Max, who has already started to show his own symptoms of Tourette’s.

The World’s Strongest Librarian illuminates the mysteries of this little-understood disorder, as well as the very different worlds of strongman training and modern libraries. With humor and candor, this unlikely hero traces his journey to overcome his disability— and navigate his wavering Mormon faith—to find love and create a life worth living.

As a special bonus, here is a reading recommendations list from Josh:

A Guide To Being Born by Ramona Ausubel
This is my recommend.  Beautiful book of short stories which came out this week.

The Devil In The White City by Eric LarsonIncredible true crime book about a killer at the world's fair in Chicago.  I can't believe I didn't know any of this story before reading it.

The Elephant And Piggie books by Mo WillemsLast night at a book signing, an adorable little girl grilled me on how many of the Elephant and Piggie books I'd read.  Not as many as her! 

The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootGo into this one blind.  Don't let anyone spoil it for you.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra Every other person I met was raving about this one.  Guess I should read it! 

I hope you're all doing well, and that if I'm in your town during the tour, you'll come say hi.

Thanks as always
Josh Hanagarne

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