Tag Archives: Josh Hanagarne

Challenge Update, May 2018

4 Jun

School is in full swing and life has slowed down. Reading has slowed down even more. However, it doesn’t show much in the list below which I’m really happy with considering my workload in school. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in May:

An Abundance of Katherines // John Green (3/5)
What I Know Now // Ellyn Spragins (3/5)
Mister Monkey // Francine Prose (3/5)
The World’s Strongest Librarian // Josh Hanagarne (4/5)
Another Brooklyn // Jacqueline Woodson (4/5)
The Sellout // Paul Beatty (2/5)

I guess I followed my own advice and started reading shorter books! I’m also only two reviews behind and I plan on catching up on those this week. I’m really pleased with this!

When Are You Reading? Challenge

7/12
Nothing new this month. I’m doing OK on this one but I’ll have to start purposefully picking some books to get me into the time periods I’m missing. That shouldn’t be too much of a problem if I start now and am proactive about it.

Goodreads Challenge

23/55
Ahead of schedule! That’s not something I expected of myself when I went into this month. I’m pleased as punch to have gotten so much reading done. I think driving to school has helped me get ahead on audiobooks but honestly, only three of these are audiobooks.

Book of the Month

It’s pretty easy for me this month to pick The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne. I adored this memoir and how open Josh was about his life and his struggles to remain in control of his life. The audiobook was great as well and a joy to listen to.

Added to my TBR

I’m failing at this again. I thought I could keep it down but after a book fair and a book sale, I added to this list on two separate occasions. However, I’m still going down and I’m at 96 currently.

  • Books for Living by Will Schwalbe. Schwalbe was the only writer I was familiar with at this year’s Midwest Literary Walk and I decided to buy his latest book. I had read his first book, The End of Your Life Book Club for my own book club a few years ago and enjoyed it.
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Schwalbe recommended this as part of his speech at the book fair and my sister-in-law positively reviewed it so I decided it was time to add it here.
  • Wonder by R. J. Palacio. This is another Schwalbe recommendation and one I feel has been too pervasive to ignore any longer.
  • Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance. A man in my book club was recommending this one so it might show up on our list in the near future. If not, I’ll probably read it anyway because I always seem to enjoy some solid non-fiction.
  • The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory. This one should be finished before the end of the year as it would be a good fit for my When Are You Reading? Challenge. Gregory is always a good one for that.

Personal Challenge

I used these monthly posts to keep myself accountable to my personal goals for 2017 and I’m excited to do that again this year. You all were so supportive before.

  • Graduate and keep my 4.0- I was able to keep an A in my winter class despite a poor final paper so I’ll take it! I’m over half-way through my current class and I’m hoping I can keep it up!
  • Travel to Europe with my husband- I booked the puffin and whale tour and a bike tour in Amsterdam. I’ve still got to reserve the Anne Frank House tour, Park Guell, and La Sagrada Familia. Everything else is good to go!
  • Complete a race per month- I did a 5K early this month. I was running with a friend to support her so no PR for me but she got one! It was a terribly rainy day so I’m sure she’ll do even better in nice weather later this summer.
  • Complete a 2018 Weather Blanket- I’ve made some good progress but I’m still a month behind. I finished a baby blanket so this is now my main knitting project and I’m sure I’ll catch up.

How are your challenges going so far? I hope you’re off to a good start If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2018, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Book Review: The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne (4/5)

24 May

My husband and I did a long weekend trip to Cleveland a few years back and we couldn’t help but notice a bookstore down the street from our hostel. Horizontal Books drew us in immediately with its pricing structure. But 1- 50% Discount. Buy 2- 60% Discount. Buy 3 or more- 70% Discount. Clearly, we needed to buy at least three books. This was one I picked after we’d both selected one and someone had to split the middle. It seemed like stealing at those prices! I guess I was intrigued by the title (granted, the cover I have doesn’t seem to be the final and the subtitle has changed). Mine is subtitled ‘A Book Lover’s Adventures’ but the final subtitle seems to be apter.

Cover image via Goodreads

The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family by Josh Hanagarne

Summary from Goodreads:

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.

I love a good memoir and I’d gone through a dearth before this book. And religious memoirs are even more my speed. This was a great combination of a book lover’s story, a fitness journey, and a religious memoir. It hit all my buttons. Plus, the super sarcastic voice and great narration helped. I liked how the chapters started with Dewey Decimal numbers to tease what was coming. I liked his honesty and the way he talked about his Tourette’s. I just liked this book.

Hanagarne is very truthful about his flaws. He talks about being unable to hold down a job, his wavering faith in the LDS church, and his ticks. I’m not sure how realistic the other people in his life are portrayed. His mother, father, siblings, and wife all seem to be pretty perfect and I’m sure they’re great, but everyone has flaws. In a memoir, the focus is on the writer and having perfect side character’s isn’t as important so I can forgive Josh that one. Though Adam seemed really well-developed and I hope his characterization was right on.

Janette was one of my favorite side characters. The amount of patience that woman has is amazing! First, her patience to wait for the right man to show up in her life, her patience for Josh to find a career, for them to start a family, and for Josh’s ticks. When things went well for Josh, she was able to celebrate. When things went poorly, she still supported him and helped him find answers. She was an amazingly supportive spouse and a great mother.

While it’s nothing like Tourette’s, Josh’s struggles to find answers to his condition reminded me of a year in my life when I was struggling to get a diagnosis and treatment for a hip injury. I remember the frustration when I went through different treatments and as my diagnosis changed. Medical conditions with no easy solution are frustrating. There’s something wrong and you just want to know how to make it go away but you have to go through rounds of treatments before you find what works for you. I understood Josh’s frustration and I’m glad he was able to find something to help control his symptoms.

Image via the Oregon ALA

The story of their struggles to conceive really struck me. Their desire to have a child was so strong as they overcame miscarriages, adoption, and their final pregnancy and parenthood. Josh was very honest about the process he and Janette went through and I appreciated his honesty about a period of time that must have been clearly stressful.

There wasn’t a part of the book I disliked, per say. Josh did a great job of keeping the focus of his book on the three things he set out to cover; faith, family, and Tourette’s. I felt he blended these well together and never lost focus. There were parts I was slightly less interested in, but nothing I disliked.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Stephen Thorne. I thought he did an amazing job of voicing the sarcastic undertones of Hanagarne’s writing. He also gave proper tenderness to the parts of Josh’s story that were emotional and hard. I also adored how he read Adam. Overall, it was a great performance.

Josh set out to talk about three things and I think he covered them wonderfully. We see his progression from a boy with Tourette’s to a man living with it to a man controlling it and growing into a father. He talked about his faith, growing up with a mother and father who encouraged him to grow in his faith to a man who went out to preach and convert. His illness seemed to deter him from his belief and I appreciated his honesty about how he struggled with his faith. His family took leading roles in both of these other aspects, having a great influence over his faith and supporting him through his treatments. It was a great combination of topics.

Writer’s Takeaway: Being able to laugh at yourself is so important when you face hardships. Making light of a tough situation, when appropriate, can help reduce stress and help you enjoy life. Josh had some very tough times in his life and he didn’t make light of all of them. Misty’s return late in his life and the struggles he and Janette faced to have children were never made into jokes. But he was able to make light of living with Misty and his struggles with faith; things still very important but ones he’d deal with for a long time to come. I appreciated his way of looking at himself and the world, it made for a good read.

I enjoyed this memoir a lot. Four out of Five Stars and a high recommendation.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
The World’s Strongest Librarian, by Josh Hanagarne | Blogging for a Good Book
The World’s Strongest Librarian | When I Couldn’t Get Crab Apples I Used Horse Chestnuts
The World’s Strongest Librarian | Beck’s Books

WWW Wednesday, 23-May-2018

23 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I haven’t made much progress with The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I’ve been getting my school reading done during lunch at work so I’m not falling behind in that, but I’m not getting ahead in reading. I expect this will be on this list for a while.
I sped through The Sellout by Paul Beatty but didn’t quite finish it in time for my book club meeting. I’m still going to finish it but it’s a little bittersweet knowing more about the ending than I otherwise would. Oh well.
I’ve had some good movement with audiobooks! I wasn’t able to get The Joy Luck Club as fast as I wanted to so I started A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson instead. This is making me excited for summer and thinking about getting the gear so I can be a backpacker soon! I’ve wanted to do some longer hikes for a while but I don’t have the gear… yet.
I also started another eaudiobook. I picked up Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt. I read his critically acclaimed The Goal in college and I’m excited to see what else this business master has to share.

Recently finished: I wrapped up The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne last Wednesday right before bed. I really adored this book and I’m surprised how few reviews of it I found after posting. It seems it wasn’t widely distributed even though it was well received. My review will be up tomorrow.
I plowed through Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson on my errands and drive to school. This was a great, albeit short book and it’s making me curious about what else Woodson has written. Does anyone have recommendations for more by her?

I posted my review of Mister Monkey by Francine Prose on Thursday last week and my book club reflection of it went up yesterday. The book was good but it didn’t blow me away. I gave it Three out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’m set on audiobooks for a while so it looks like I’ll get to pick a physical book next. I keep knocking down my towering TBR from the top and next up is Brainiac by Ken Jennings. My mom raised me on Jeopardy! so I watched Jennings in his legendary run on the show. I’m interested to see what he has to say about the world of competitive trivia and learn a little more about a person who can pack so many facts into his head!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 16-May-2018

16 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’ll be finished with The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne pretty soon. I’m really enjoying this memoir and I’m realizing how long it’s been since I read a memoir. Hanagarne’s sense of humor is keeping me reading though he’s going through some very tough times in his life.
I’m not very far into The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver so it’s hard to really say how I’m feeling about it at the moment. I like it so far but I know this one will be on here for a while as I enjoy it slowly.
I haven’t had a ton of time to read The Sellout by Paul Beatty either. The prose is very poetic and I’m reading it slowly because of that. I think I’ll finish it in time for my book club meeting but it will probably be closer than I’d like to admit!
I’ve just started Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson on audio. I think it’s the full book but with it being so short, I’m still a little unsure! I guess we’ll see when my book club meets again.

Recently finished: I finished Mister Monkey by Francine Prose on Friday night. Overall, I enjoyed the book though there were some parts that rubbed me the wrong way or that didn’t flow logically for me. We met to discuss it on Monday but I wrote my review before the conversation could taint my opinions. The review will post tomorrow and my book club reflection will be up next week.

I’ve made a push for book reviews and I managed to post a few. Monday I posted my review of John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines. I gave the book 3 out of 5 Stars.
I also reviewed Ellyn Spragins’ What I Know Now. It’s a collection of letters that she helped famous women write. I gave it 3 out of 5 Stars as well.

Reading Next: I’ll need another audiobook for my car next. With all the driving I’m doing for school this semester, I’ll go through these rather quickly. I’ll be picking up Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club next. I’ve heard good things and I’m excited to enjoy this one while I drive to class.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 9-May-2018

9 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m enjoying Mister Monkey by Francine Prose and I think I’ll have it finished by next week. The audiobook is well done and I’ve started doing my long runs so I get through audiobooks on my phone fairly quickly. I like finding the connections between the plot lines and I’ve had fun guessing who the next narrator will be.
I’m not too far into The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne but it’s a joy so far. Hanagarne is able to make fun of himself and his childhood and at the same time convey how hard it is to live with Tourette’s. I’m enjoying the tone he picked for the book and I’m excited to keep reading.
My next ebook is The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I added it to my list after I enjoyed another Shriver book. I’m a bit too early in this one to tell how I feel about it and I’m not reading it quickly so expect this one to linger here for a while.
Over the weekend, I started a new physical book with The Sellout by Paul Beatty. I almost read this about a year ago but was going to miss the book club meeting so I decided not to read it and now I get a second chance! Again, early in, but so far soon good!

Recently finished: I was able to wrap up An Abundance of Katherines by John Green late last week. It’s not my favorite Green by any means, but it was still enjoyable. I’ll have a review up next week so I can go into some more detail on it.
I sped through What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins. The letters were all really short so I’d binge-read five or so at a time and got through the book really fast. I’ll have a review for this one up next week, also. I’m catching up on reviews!

A few reviews as well! I posted about my feelings on Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs last Thursday. I love this author and I gave him a glowing review. He always makes me laugh. I gave him 5 out of 5 Stars.
I also wrote about The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro earlier this week. I’ve liked Ishiguro in the past, but this book was not for me. Please check out my review for more details, but still read Never Let Me Go! I gave the book 2 out of 5 stars.

Reading Next: I’m trying to keep ahead of my book club picks so I can lazily pick up my own books. The next one I’ll grab will be Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. I’m worried the audiobook I have is abridged because it’s only 2 hours and 30 minutes long! If you’ve read this before, does that seem right? It looks like the book is about 200 pages so I’m surprised it would be so short.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 2-May-2018

2 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I’m still moving forward at a fair pace in An Abundance of Katherines by John Green. It’s fun for me but I think it started off with some large stretches of the imagination so it’s hard for me to enjoy it even though the rest has been really great.
So many new books now! I did start Mister Monkey by Francine Prose like I’d hoped to. The preface threw me off a lot and I’m still deciding how I felt about the book. It’s a lot different from the premise and I think I’ll like it. I’ll have a much better idea next week.
I also got my copy of What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins through inter-library loan. It came in just as I was about to finish my previous book so it’s beyond perfect! It’s a bit shorter than I thought so I’m being hopeful that I can power through this one and keep scaling Mt. TBR!
I grabbed a copy of The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne on CD at the library. I got this book at an awesome bookstore in Cincinnati a few years ago and I’m excited to finally enjoy it!

Recently finished: So many to report! The end of The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah had me crying while I was working out and it made push-ups a lot harder! I enjoyed the book a lot and posted my review of it yesterday. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.
I finished Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs Friday. I flew through it and loved every minute. Jacobs is one of my favorite writers. I have only one of his books still to read and I want to get to it right away, but he doesn’t publish very often so I also want to pace myself. I’ll have a review up tomorrow and I’m excited to gush about this book.
I also finished The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. I had to pick my husband up late Friday night and I finished it waiting for him in the car. I think him being out of town for the week helped me finish so many books this week! I’ll post a review sometime next week.

Reading Next: Being at the beginning of so many, it seems a bit presumptuous to put anything here. However, my book club met on Monday and our next selection is The Sellout by Paul Beatty. My other book club read this when I thought I was going to be out of town so I missed it. I’m excited to get another chance at this book! I’m curious about a Man Booker winner from America!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!