In a season of spooky stories and macabre monsters, Scranton Reads has picked a tale that fits right in.

The program, a project of Scranton Public Library and the city since 2002, has chosen the classic Gothic horror novel “Frankenstein,” by Mary Shelley, as this year’s featured book.

“I’m surprised we’ve never done this (book) before,” said Sylvia Orner, head of technical services for Scranton Public Library and the co-chairwoman of Scranton Reads along with Jessica Serrenti. “I think it’s perfect for the time of year. It’s spooky, so we’re hoping that people get into the fall, Halloween vibe and enjoy a good scare.”

Each autumn, Scranton Reads picks a book that it encourages the community to read at the same time and plans a range of activities for all ages related to the story. This year is no different, with book discussions set for libraries not just within the city but in the entire Lackawanna County Library System, plus film screenings, children’s events and more.

“With this year’s programming, pretty much the same as every year, we just want to provide programs that are going to supplement the whole Scranton Reads experience,” Orner said. “That essentially is just promoting a love of reading through a shared reading experience.”

As in past years, Scranton Reads will distribute free copies of the book at the county’s libraries and its events starting in late September, Orner said.

Scranton Reads never really picked a horror novel before, Orner noted, but in “Frankenstein,” it saw a book that people might not have read in many years. It also offers a chance to introduce a classic “to a new generation of readers,” she added.

“I had just started rereading it again, and it’s kind of amazing to me how well it’s held up and the whole horror/science-fiction aspect of it,” Orner said.

Shelley published the novel anonymously in 1818, weaving together a tale of an enthusiastic young scientist who builds a creature from the body parts of the dead, only to be horrified by the result of his work. The monster wanders the world and becomes increasingly tortured before he sets out on a murderous path to torment his creator.

The story spawned numerous films and other adaptations, most notably the 1931 movie starring Boris Karloff as the monster in a very loose take on the story. Scranton Reads will show that film as part of a double feature with the 1974 comedy “Young Frankenstein” to kick off its month of programs on Saturday, Oct. 5, from noon to 4 p.m. at Albright Memorial Library, 500 Vine St., Scranton. The Social Justice Book Club will show the movie along with 1935’s “Bride of Frankenstein” on Monday, Oct. 10, at 6 p.m. at the Albright. And Valley Community Library, 739 River St., Peckville, will screen “Frankenstein” on Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 6 p.m.

Kids, meanwhile, can get involved in a pair of “Frankenstein”-themed events. Nancy K. Holmes Branch Library, 1032 Green Ridge St., Scranton, will offer “Frankentoys” on Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 3:30 p.m. Geared toward ages 8 and older, the program encourages kids to bring in unused toys that they then will take apart and use to build new toys. Then, on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 6 p.m. at Valley Community Library, kids 9 to 12 can listen to a story about how Shelley wrote the novel, do an art project and make not only a “mad scientist laboratory” but also their own monster in the program “It’s Alive!” Registration is required for both activities.

Scranton Reads also will offer a modern take on themes from the book in “Artificial Intelligence: The Promise and the Danger” with Dr. Lee Sabastiani on Monday, Oct. 21, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Marywood University. The night will look at artificial intelligence’s place in medicine, music and human rights, and guests also will be able to interact with tabletop robots.

And toward the end of October into early November, libraries across Lackawanna County will hold “Frankenstein” book discussions.

“I think it’s one thing to just read a book, and it’s another to actually sit down with other people and you’ve had this shared experience and come together and discuss the things that you liked and the things that you didn’t like,” Orner said. “It’s always interesting to hear other people’s perspectives. You walk away with a better understanding.”


Scranton Reads events

  • What: Double Feature Movie Matinee, featuring 1974’s “Young Frankenstein” and 1931’s “Frankenstein”
  • When: Saturday, Oct. 5, noon to 4 p.m.
  • Where: Albright Memorial Library, 500 Vine St., Scranton


  • What: Social Justice Book Club film screening of “Frankenstein” and “Bride of Frankenstein”
  • When: Monday, Oct. 10, 6 p.m.
  • Where: Albright Memorial Library, 500 Vine St., Scranton


  • What: Frankentoys
  • When: Tuesday, Oct. 15, 3:30 p.m.
  • Where: Nancy K. Holmes Branch Library, 1032 Green Ridge St., Scranton
  • Details: For ages 8 and older; registration required.


  • What: “Frankenstein” film screening
  • When: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 6 p.m.
  • Where: Valley Community Library, 739 River St., Peckville


  • What: Artificial Intelligence: The Promise and the Danger with Dr. Lee Sabastiani
  • When: Monday, Oct. 21, 6:30 to 8 p.m.
  • Where: Room 206, Learning Commons, Marywood University, 2300 Adams Ave., Scranton


  • What: It’s Alive!
  • When: Wednesday, Oct. 23, 6 p.m.
  • Where: Valley Community Library, 739 River St., Peckville
  • Details: For ages 9 to 12; registration required.


Book discussions

  • Tuesday, Oct. 22, 6:30 p.m., Abington Community Library, 1200 W. Grove St., Clarks Summit; 570-587-3440
  • Thursday, Oct. 24, 5 p.m., Nancy Kay Holmes Branch Library, 1032 Green Ridge St., Scranton; for ages 12 to 18; 570-207-0764
  • Thursday, Oct. 24, 6:30 p.m., Valley Community Library, 739 River St., Peckville; 570-489-1765
  • Saturday, Oct. 26, 10:30 a.m., Dalton Community Library, 113 E. Main St.; 570-563-2014
  • Wednesday, Oct. 30, 6:30 p.m., Valley Community Library, 739 River St., Peckville; 570-489-1765
  • Thursday, Oct. 31, 1 p.m., Carbondale Public Library, 5 N. Main St.; 570-282-4281
  • Thursday, Nov. 7, 6:30 p.m., Taylor Community Library, 710 S. Main St.; 570-562-1234