Two hundred years ago, a teenager wrote a book that is still read by millions of people today in part because it speaks to universal themes that resonate across generations. Plus, it has a monster.
Considered the first science fiction novel, “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, is still one of the top reads in high schools and colleges, has been made into multiple films and — fun fact — spawned the General Mills cereal Franken Berry.
Now, the Lehigh Valley is part of an international “Frankenreads” bicentennial celebration organized by the Keats-Shelley Association of America and inspired by a Lehigh University professor. For two weeks starting Oct. 15, Lehigh University and Bethlehem Area Public Library are offering talks on themes in the Frankenstein story and how they apply to society today.
The celebration includes showings of three films based on the book — the 1931 movie “Frankenstein” with Boris Karloff, Mel Brooks’ 1974 comedy “Young Frankenstein” and “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” directed by Kenneth Branagh in 1994 — with talks run by Lehigh graduate students.
On Oct. 31, Halloween day, in a “Frankenstein” reading marathon, the entire book is will be read aloud by volunteers in 10-minute segments at the Bethlehem library . Readers can sign up at the circulation desk. Organizers are encouraging people to come in Halloween costume to listen or participate and enjoy spooky snacks.
Similar events will be held by more than 580 groups in 48 countries, thanks to the Keats-Shelley Association, which got a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to organize the celebration. But it was Elizabeth Dolan, Lehigh University associate professor of English, who came up with the idea for the international celebration.