Salt Lake City Librarian Josh Hanagarne 

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Salt Lake City Public Library’s Josh Hanagarne writes the "World’s Strongest Librarian" blog and is the author of The Knot. He has also learned to deal with Tourette's syndrome with strength training and, as his life motto dictates, "not making anybody's day worse." He will give a seminar at the library Thursday, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m. City Weekly interviewed Hanagarne about that upcoming seminar, “How to Have Tourette’s and Improve Any Situation.”

What is it about writing that you love?
There was a period of time where I had ticks, I was screaming so loud every two seconds I got a hernia from it, and I had all of these goals but I couldn’t even leave my house. And that was when I got into writing, when I realized I loved writing. I started keeping a journal. I would get these botox injections in my vocal cords and it would paralyze my vocal chords so I couldn’t scream anymore. So I couldn’t really hurt myself that way, but I couldn’t really talk either. I’m a very social person. I like people, and writing became a way to still kind of keep up discussion. I wrote The Knot during a time when I couldn’t talk and I thought might as well put it out there and see what happens. I’m not proud enough to be hurt by criticism.

How did you find or come up with the techniques you use to alleviate Tourette’s symptoms?
This seminar is not going to be the answer for everyone. I get a lot of emails from people with Tourette’s, who ask, “What can I do?” And I can’t tell them that they need to learn how to bend horse shoes with their hands. But I believe that it’s all just stress—whether it’s Tourette’s, whether it’s your work load, whether it’s the amount of weight you can lift—it’s all just stress. And what I talk about is more how we deal with situations that we feel like we can’t control. That’s the situation I was in, where I couldn’t even control my body, and the techniques that worked have not been about controlling my body they’ve been about controlling the way I think about things. So that’s kind of what the night will be about, not so much about Tourette’s but things I’ve done that I think have helped with Tourette’s and have a broader application. Not to get too grandiose.

Can you give me a little example? What is something one could use if they were going through something really stressful?
If you’re in a situation you can’t control, you just have to introduce something into it that you can control, measure, see progress in. For me that was either lifting weights- either the numbers went up, or they didn’t- or writing. There have been times in my life where I needed to see progress that I could demonstrate.

What is your favorite and least favorite book that you’ve reviewed?
They are the same book, actually. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy is my favorite book for a lot of different reasons. I think it’s not only a testament to why the written word matters but what the human mind can do with words. It has both my favorite and least favorite character in all of literature, a guy named Judge Holden. It’s a book that I’m only emotionally up for every six or seven years. When I read that book I’m changed, and it takes a while for me to recover.

Do you have another book in the works right now?
Seth Godin, who has written a ton of marketing books and a popular blog, noticed the blog at two months old, and he wrote me and said, “you should be writing a book. I forwarded your blog to my agent,” and about two days later Seth’s literary agent became my agent. We went through a round of proposals with a memoir called World’s Strongest Librarian, I turned down the first offer I got, it was okay money but not the book I wanted to write. I just write when it’s fun, I’m not motivated by money. So yes, nothing definitive except I have an agent I have publishers waiting for a revised proposal-maybe they’ll like it, maybe they’ll hate it, I have no idea.

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