Students, faculty and members of the community gathered in Blum Union on Thursday, Oct. 1 to attend the 13th annual Reading of Banned and Challenged Books.
This event is put together every year for people to listen to excerpts from some of the most banned and challenged books of all time.
Michael Cadden, chair of the English, Foreign Languages and Journalism department, organizes the reading every year and believes it to be an important event.
“Sometimes we think that living in America means freedom of speech happens automatically everywhere and that’s not the case,” Cadden said. “It’s important to keep reminding people that even if there isn’t a case going on in the community, it’s important that they know that there are cases in other communities that could affect them at some point.”
English professor Bill Church believes the reading is important because of what certain books can provide to certain readers.
“Books allow us to travel without going anywhere,” Church said. “They take us into the geography of other people’s lives, minds and experiences in ways we might never get.”
Church thought this year’s reading was impressive because of the diversity of the texts that were chosen by the readers.
According to Cadden, the key to the success of this event is not to read the controversial parts of the books. The key to success is in the hands of the readers and the material that they choose.
“People were choosing things that they cared about which was the goal,” Cadden said. “It was to get people to share the parts of those books that made them think and care.”
Various excerpts were read throughout the night from works such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.
The room in Blum Union was not completely packed. However, there was a good number of people in attendance for the event.
Cadden and Church both believed the attendance would have been greater if the semester was not so close to midterm and there was not so much going on.
Cadden still believes the event was a success and looks forward to doing it all again next year.
“We’re gonna keep doing this until they tell us we can’t,” Cadden said.
In total, there were eight readers during the course of the banned book reading. The readers included people such as Missouri Western professors, local high school teachers, local librarians and Missouri Western students.
The banned book reading started at 7 p.m. and lasted a little over an hour.