Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Life Lessons from The World's Strongest Librarian

If you think that you need to be a librarian to enjoy Josh Hanegarne's moving memoir, please let me disabuse you of that thought right now. Though he does relate some very funny stories about what really goes on at the reference desk, and in the stacks after dark, this book covers an amazing amount of ground and offers some beautifully thought out life lessons.

What actually drew me to this book is the subtitle, A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family. Tourette's Syndrome as an ailment is a fascinating subject on its own. People's reaction to those who suffer from this disease is not fascinating at all. In fact, in my own library we have a family of two, a patient, loving and I'm sure long-suffering dad and his adult son who is plagued with Tourette's, who are in several times a week.

This young man exhibits many of the mannerisms, loud shouts, tics, and frantic, uncontrollable waving of arms, that Josh Hanegarne describes in his memoir. But Josh became a librarian while our young man has been vilified by other customers, reported for being disruptive, and even asked to leave. So much for loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Hanegarne uses the Dewey Decimal System to preface chapters, giving readers a heads up as to what subjects he'll be dealing with next. He is so real, honest, and self-effacing. He seems totally unafraid of putting his whole person hood out there for readers to analyze, enjoy or dissect. His brilliant parents hold pride of place in Josh's life.

 His dad, who suspected that Josh might have Tourette's when he was still quite young (it wasn't diagnosed until years later), entices his son to the gym, a place that will become a salvation for a guy who has an inordinate amount of energy to channel. His mom, on the other hand, entices him to the library, another place of salvation. And Josh reads everything! What a readers' advisor he is. His taste is all over the board eclectic. And, tell me, how can you not fall in love with a guy who hides his Stephen King book from his mom by wrapping it in another book jacket and thinking he can put one over on her?

The Hanegarne family is Mormon and Josh does a fantastic job of explaining the ins and outs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, how it began, the tenets of the beliefs, the expectations for the young people to fulfill their mission, marry early and procreate. Josh is funny and wise as he tells us about his escapades on the dating scene with his tics and whistles, grunts and shouts. He credits his wonderful mom with introducing him to the woman who will become his wife and then breaks your heart with the story of their long quest to have a child of their own.

Josh Hanegarne is a deep thinker. His loss of faith in his religion and what it might mean to his family is so painfully thought out yet so logically and beautifully explained. He's a man always searching for answers, always asking, always discussing his doubts and concerns with others and finding acceptance. This is a man you just know you'd love to know. And guess what librarians? He's the new Nancy Pearl in my book. Do yourself a favor and get acquainted. http://joshhanagarne.com/

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