In this series, I recommend five classics each month that remind me of that particular time of the year. Although most people seem to dislike November (at least in New England where I live) because all of the pretty leaves die and everything is dead, it’s actually my favorite month of the year. This might have something to do with the fact that it’s my birthday month, but I also think it’s because I’ve always associated November with the calm before (and after) the storm. November is always relatively relaxed compared to the chaos of Halloween and Christmas. While Thanksgiving can be hectic, you don’t have to worry about buying the perfect presents for people (yet) and it’s always been one of my favorite holidays. Usually November is after midterms and before finals, meaning that you get a little bit of an academic breather as well. And it’s cold and cozy but there isn’t any snow to shovel yet… the perfect month!
In terms of literature, I’ve always associated November with books that are charming but a little tense, a little twisted in some way. There’s also usually a sense of transitioning, since November is both my transition from one age to another as well as a transition from fall to winter.
This novel is all about gray area and transitions, just like its title suggestions. Margaret Hale, the main character, finds herself stuck between her rural past and urban present, her socioeconomic class and her desire to help others, what she is capable of fixing and what is out of her control in society. Despite the eventual romance plot, the rest of the novel is quite dark.
What’s more transitory and twisted than a story set before and during the bloody French Revolution? I was assigned to read this book for my AP English class when I was a senior in high school and although I don’t remember much of the plot, I do remember the way it made me feel: haunted, sad, and in awe of this beautifully heart-wrenching novel. Plus, there are old ladies knitting, and nothing screams charming like some old ladies knitting.
This novel is the definition of dark, twisted, and in between different states of being. Dorian is both young and old, moral and corrupt, innocent and guilty, beautiful and hideous. Yet there’s something about Wilde’s writing that is endlessly charming, enchanting, and captivating. Unlike some books that are unsettling, I find myself returning to this novel time and time again.
Ah, Puritan Massachusetts. So messed up! So corrupt! But so quaint and innocent-looking from the outside looking in! I think this novel is so important when thinking about how society views women, motherhood, and sex today. Although the United States has obviously made A LOT of progress when it comes to “slut-shaming” culture, there’s still A LOT of progress to be made. And this book is a reminder of that!
Back in high school I used to do something I called Poevember every November where I would read as many short stories written by Edgar Allan Poe as I could in a month. Ever since then I’ve always associated his dark, clever, entertaining mysteries with my favorite month.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this classics guide for the month of November!
With books do you associate with the month of November? What do you think of the books I’ve mentioned? Which books would you add? Let me know in the comments section below!