Write to the Point!

A Neighborhood Studios Program at the Mark Twain House

Bodybuilding Librarian Uses Might To Cope With Tourette’s

Strongest librarian

Bodybuilder Josh Hanagarne, who bills himself as the world’s strongest librarian, talks with writing apprentices at the Mark Twain House & Museum.

By June Tran

Writing apprentice

Twain Studios

A eager reader at an early age, Josh Hanagarne, started reading large novels such as Stephen King’s Misery during the fifth grade.

“I would always find the biggest book that I could find,” Hanagarne said during a visit at the Mark Twain Museum.

As a person with Tourette’s Syndrome, Hanagarne did not recall it as a major influence of it on his childhood.

Other than experiencing the mild onset symptoms of the disease when he was six, Hanagarne recalls his childhood as normal as any other American child.

It was during his youth Mormon missionary to Washington D.C. that the disease truly took an effect.

“It really went berserk,” Hanagarne said. “I started hitting myself in the face.”

It is hard to imagine the feeling of having Tourette’s but Hanagarne describes it as having an “intense sneeze.” One that “itches… [and] doesn’t feel good” if held in.

Hanagarne is very grateful for the people who surround him. His family is extremely supportive, even after his decision to separate from the Mormon Church.

His family members were not the only people Hanagarne mentioned in his short visit. There was also his wife, Janette, the person whom Hanagarne’s mother described as “the perfect girl [for him].”

Despite having written The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength and the Power of Family, Hanagarne said, “It did not start out that way. This book wasn’t supposed to happen.” Rather, it started out with Hanagarne’s daily journal entries on his blog, worldsstrongestlibrarian.com.

But after author Seth Godin saw the blog and contacted Hanagarne, he begin writing his memoir.

Still the memoir today is different from the original draft that he had intended, since the story changed.

Originally, the story was intended to revolve around his success with getting rid of the Tourette’s tics. It was to include his regime as well as involvement with strongman Adam T. Glass, a former U.S. Air Force sergeant.

But the Tourette’s didn’t go away.

“I had to change the theme around because there wasn’t going to be someone riding into a sunset,” explained Hanagarne.

As a librarian in Salt Lake City, Utah, Hanagarne is an avid reader. He sleeps very little, three hours a day, and reads a book each day.

His favorite book is The Confederacy Dunces. It’s “one of the funniest books that I’ve ever read,” he said, adding, “it gets sadder every year.”

As a person who is stricken with curiosity, Hanagarne loves the fact that every time he reads the book, the “more complicated and slippery” the humor gets.

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