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


Book Review: The Yelp


The Yelp:  A Heartbreak in Reviews

by Chase Compton

So you meet the love of your life and he is perfect in every way.  You take him to all of your favorite places to eat and drink all your favorite things.  You find new places together and make incredible memories there.

And then, the relationship fails.  When you lose this lover, do you lose all of those wonderful places?  When you can’t stand to talk about it and your friends can’t stand to listen to you, what can you do?

If you are Chase Compton you chronicle the entire story in a series of reviews on Yelp.

This memoir is a fascinating look at city life, love, and healing.

Source:  ARC from publisher

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

Troublemaker by Leah Remini


I’ve been fascinated with Scientology lately, having seen an number of articles in the news about the group.  I liked this first person account of the Scientology experience.  I think first person accounts are important, so I won’t retell any of Leah’s story – you really need to experience her words directly.

Like many celebrity memoirs, the book is too wordy in places and compelling in others.  While I don’t think I have a complete picture of the group the book has certainly encouraged me to continue read and learning about it.


Source:  Public Library

Audience:  High School and Up, but mostly adults.

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

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley


I read this book for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016.  Read more about the challenge here

If this book was cuisine,  we’d have to call it fusion.  It’s a memoir.  It’s a graphic novel.  It’s a cookbook.  It’s a coming-of-age story centered around food, family, and art.   See what I mean? There’s a lot going on here!

I found the loosely sequenced stories enganging and thought provoking. As I read Chapter 1, “The Kid in the Kitchen” I thought about how my own kids were present in the kitchen  and how I encouraged them to try new tastes.  I assumed that they would like things, not that they would be too spicy, too intense, too whatever.   I see parents at the market saying to their kids I don’t think you will like that.  How sad, to assume that new is not good.  That familiar is safe.  I also felt a bit jealous, as food in my own house growing up was not really a big deal.

Chapter 3, “Getting Ours” was a great story of growing uo, but also a bit of a concern.   The publisher labels the book for grades 6 and up, but some mature interests are sketched out here and I am not sure it is for every young person.  That’s a decision best left to familes, not to me.  It’s a genuine chapter, nothing over the top or even inappropriate.   Just a bit grown up.

I’m looking forward to trying some of the recipes in the book, particularly the chai tea, leg of lamb and Huevos Rancheros.  If Knisley writes a graphic cookbook, I’ll be buying it. Her Website lists a number of books that I will be adding to my TBR list.

I’m listing this in the book challenge as food memoir, graphic, and middle grade.

Source:  public library

Audience:  grades 6 and up, but definitely engaging for adult readers


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!

Bad Kid by David Crabb

I read this book for Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, task #5
Yes, I liked the book, no I did not like every page. Thankfully David Crabb is funny or this book would be too sad. I worry about kids like David – they are not bad but they are making bad choices. In David’s favor, he’s got a lot of love in his life. While his dad truly struggles with David’s life choices and sexuality he loves him just the same. I adore his mother and the way she talks about herself in the third person. Crabb has captured her spirit beautifully.

Look for David at some upcoming Moth storytelling events.

Check out the trailer for the book to get a sense of the humor and sadness.