• Sat. Jun 22nd, 2024

A cold, hopeful November – and your new favourite book

black and white picture of a road covered with snow

Hi! Welcome to November! You made it. Well done. You survived Halloween. We are now in the Winter months of Scotland – and if you are perhaps new to the climate, I offer you some advice: bundle up, prepare for genuinely believing you will never be warm again, and allow yourself the time to read at least a few chapters of a book. September is romanticised by the academics as a return home. October is beloved and remembered by the countless people quoting L. M. Montgomery; “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” But what of November?

It goes against my nature to not recommend The Secret History (if you haven’t read Tartt’s magnum opus yet…why not?), but that isn’t November. The Secret History firmly belongs with the academics and their adoration of September. October already has Anne of Green Gables as its mascot. What does November have? For a book to genuinely achieve ‘November’ status, it must be cold, it must be sad, and it must have a spirit of never giving up, of brutally continuing. I understand this feels rather dramatic when our ‘brutal continuation’ is working part time jobs and studying at a world-class university, but I digress.

My recommendation? If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio. Set in a remote American arts college, If We Were Villains recounts the destructive path that six theatre students go down, all in the name of Shakespeare. Complete with productions of Macbeth in freezing rivers, murder and actually quite a lot of laugh-out-loud theatre moments, If We Were Villains is wintery, cold, and leaves you with the distinct impression that there is a constant wind blowing on the faces of all the characters.

But the weather doesn’t make If We Were Villains a November novel. What makes M. L. Rio’s book so special and ever-so November is the ever present theme of looking back, of re-evaluating your choices, your friendships, your understanding of what is right and wrong. Both November and If We Were Villains grapple with the same feelings; feeling like you will be cold forever and desperately craving a hot drink, but also understanding that in difficult times, true friendship is stronger than any hearth.

The month of November is one I have always struggled with. It’s not full of the bright lights and carols December brings, it’s too far away from March to be a ‘grit your teeth and bare it until Spring’ month. However, it is also the month my Mum was born, and how can I hate a month that gave the world such a gift? And this mixed feeling of love and celebration and also slight dread and cold is the exact feeling I got whilst reading If We Were Villains. It has all the feelings of running for a night out, in minus twelve weather and pouring rain, but also the deep dark dread and fear that comes when the sun starts setting at 4pm.

Coyote Springs AZ Dusk November 2012” by rverc is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0