Audiobook Review: The World’s Strongest Librarian

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

by Josh Hanagarne, read by Stephan R. Thorne




Josh Hanagarne first exhibited symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome at age 6.  His memoir tells the story of how he manages his Tourette’s, his faith , and his family.  He found weight training to be hugely helpful in managing his symptoms.  He started a blog simply to keep track of his workouts.  He began adding stories about his daily life and those stories grew his audience far behind the weight lifting community.

This was such a fascinating book. I learned about one case of Tourette’s in a most detailed way. While no two people have the same experience I feel that hearing Josh’s account has helped me to grasp what it can be like. I enjoyed the dewey decimal-inspired epigraphs that start each chapter They give a little hint at what’s coming next. The stories of his day-to-day life as a librarian and a quirky nature to the book even in its most solemn chapters. Josh is a great storyteller, as evidenced by this interview at the Hartford Public Library.
I particularly liked Chapter 10 in which the author expounds on the wonder of the public library. Libraries have always been a huge part of my life and I credit them with my early literacy success. He gives many reasons why libraries are evolving and growing. They are still a vital part of the communities they serve.

On a side note, great narrator!


Source:  Audiobook download from the public library

Audience:  adults, mature teens


Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling


I gave this audio book high marks because I would read it, or listen to it, again. This collection of essays is funny and compelling.  Many celebrity memoirs have a rambling sections, a sense that the subject is struggling to fill the pages.  Happily, that is not the case with this collection.  Yes it is a memoir, but it’s also a collection of Mindy’s ideas about comedy, working, and Hollywood.


Source:  public library audiobook downloaded to my phone for FREE!

Audience:  adults

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman*

I didn’t actually read The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and Chris Ridddell.  But I must say, this is an illustrated text I would really enjoy reading.  Check out the gorgeous cover:



Except, I did not read this book.  Not one word.  Not even the blurb.  Not. One. Word.  And really, you shouldn’t either.  I listened to it and it was amazing.  (OK, to be honest, I listened to it twice, but more on that later).

For the second year in a row I am attempting to complete Book Riot‘s Read Harder 2016 Challenge.  Check out this task list:


The task in question is :  Listen to an Audiobook that has won an Audie Award.  A quick check of Audiophile’s website led me to this title.  What grabbed me was the description: full cast and sound effects.  I cruised over to the Ocean State Libraries eZone and downloaded it directly to my phone.  (seriously, how great is that?!)

It was so good, I listened to it twice, once on my own and once with my 19 year old daughter – a captive audience on a long car ride.  Ten minutes in she paused the recoding and told me that while she was initially just being polite, she now was hooked.  We listened to the very end!  Check out this 5 minute excerpt and you will be hooked as well.


Audiobook Excerpt


Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella


Love, love, love this book. Teenage Audrey is trapped in her home, hiding behind dark glasses, unable to overcome her crippling anxiety. Three things I loved:
1. Audrey is funny, despite her terrible situation
2. The descriptions of panic attacks, therapy and anxiety feel honest
3. A stellar supporting cast or family and friends


Source:  Audiobook from the public library – downloaded to my phone, how convenient

Audience:  grade 7 and up


Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson


Stop what you are doing right now and go check out The Bloggess.  I’ll wait.

Seriously, how long did you spend on that awesome site?  I don’t do twitter, but if I did I would follow Jenny Lawless.    Read this hysterical feed.

Don’t get lost on Buzzfeed while you are there.  Come back!

Thank you Jenny Lawson. You made me laugh, cry and sit in the driveway listening to one more chapter. I really wish I had found your books before your tour ended.  I would have gone to see you, and maybe tried to find a taxidermied  (I know that is a word.  Go away spell check!) animal to wave at you with.  I love that you love yourself and that you share your struggle in such detail  It’s time to take the stigma away from mental illness and book and blogs like yours will do a lot to move us forward.

I highly recommend this as an audiobook. The author read her story at just the right inflection with a great sense of timing.
 Source:  digital audiobook from my fabulous public library, downloaded to my fancy new phone.
Audience:  adults, mature teens, people who like to laugh, anybody having a hard tim getting through the day

My Year In Books 2015

Some nice stats, courtesy of Goodreads

110 books

32,006 pages

Shortest book:  The Julian Chapter by RJ Palacio (84 pages)

Longest book:  Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz (560 pages)

The most popular book I read was Girl on the Train by  Paula Hawkins (733K people on Goodreads read it too.)

My least popular book seems unfair – it was just published on 12/27 and I flew through it.  And it was so good!  Get out there and download it so the stats go up!    Unhappy Families by Oliver Tidy.

My own conclusions:

Favorite YA:  I’ll Give You the Sun  by Jandy Nelson

Favorite Audio: Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Favorite Graphic Novel:  Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Favorite Non Fiction:  The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin

Favorite Memoir:   Raising Ryland by Hillary Whittington

Favorite Mystery:  Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Favorite Literary Fiction:  The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Favorite Supernatural Thriller-ish:  Saint Odd by Dean Koontz

And special mentions to:

Elly GriffithsThe Zig Zag Girl  looks like a great new series.

Jennifer Latham:  Scarlett Undercover was so fun and dark all at once.

Gary D. Schmidt:  Orbiting Jupiter had some of the loveliest language I read all year.

Oliver Tidy:   You had three great books on my list and kept me well-entertained with your blog.  (He Made Me, Particular Stupidities and Unhappy Families)

Sophie Kinsella:  Finding Audrey was funny and informative. Anxious people everywhere thank you.  And maybe you should be friends with Jenny Lawson.  Just saying.


commentWhat were your best books in 2015?  Any plans to read one that I’ve listed?  Please leave a comment.


Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2016!

Spare Change by Robert B. Parker

I enjoyed this audiobook for free as a download from the public library.
If you like a mystery, this is a good one. Sunny Randall is not a nuanced as Spenser, but she is getting better. A little therapy is good for a main character – see Jesse Stone. In this outing Sunny gets a chance to work with her dad on a decades old unsolved murder case that has become current: The Spare Change Killer. Compared to Spenser and Jesse Stone, the Sunny books are much more about conversations and less about action.
Once caveat: you’ll need to ignore the constant “he said” “she said” in the narration.

Robert B Parker died in 2010.  His estate has authorized the continuation of the Jesse Stone and Spenser novels, but I’m not sure about Sunny Randall.  Does anyone have any information?

The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story by RJ Palacio

Let me be up front with you, I LOVED the book Wonder by RJ Palacio.  I have read it aloud to no less than 10 classes.  It’s a long book, so reading it aloud is a significant commitment.  It was worth every minute.  I own the hardcover and the audio book.  When it comes to this story, I mean business.

Don’t read this book until you finish Wonder- the whole story would be a spoiler. And if you haven’t read Wonder, go check out this excellent book trailer.

One thing that makes it a standout book is the many characters and the perspective they bring to the story.  Even so, we don’t get everyone’s side of the story.  One character we never really get any depth from is Julian, the villain of the piece.  When I saw this audio book at my local library I did not hesitate to snatch it up.

It’s much shorter than Wonder, and it does get a little slow in the middle, but still worth your time and effort.

Source:  Public Library