MU Reads celebrates Banned Books Week


Published local authors Marie Manilla and Eliot Parker spoke Sept. 26 at an MU Reads event celebrating Banned Books Week

Manilla and Parker previously joined MU Reads for Banned Books Week in 2017. Banned Books Week is designed to showcase books that have been banned in the past, especially to children and young adults.

Parker has published four novels and teaches at Mountwest Community and Technical College. Manilla has published three books and a variety of essays and short stories and teaches in the English department of Marshall University.

Both Manilla and Parker said they believe the practice of banning books should be lessened greatly.

“Part of the reason we read books is to expand our horizons,” Parker said. “That is why access to banned books, for students especially, is important. It broadens our horizons. If we aren’t willing as a society to make ourselves a little uncomfortable, we might as well fold it and go home.”

Manilla, whose essays have tackled several social issues, said banned books often contain examinations of topics such as violence, sexuality and racism. However, Manilla also said books are banned and unbanned depending on society.

“Books fall in and out of favor depending on what authority is being challenged,” Manilla said.

While neither Manilla nor Parker advocate the banning of books, Manilla said she does believe books, as well as other media, should not be violent or offensive for their own sake.

“When you’re just being violent to shock, where’s the redeeming value?” Manilla said.

Parker said society will change its viewpoint on certain hot-button issues, causing certain books to be unbanned.

“What’s shocking today might be assigned in an English class five or ten years from now if it has true literary merit,” Parker said.

The next MU Reads event will be Oct. 23 and will preview National Novel Writing Month. Parker will be joining local authors Rebecca Barray, Marsha Blevins, Michael Connick, Tobi Doyle and Carter Taylor Seaton for the event.

Sam Phillips can be contacted at [email protected]