Unraveled Wednesday: Summer Reads and the End of the Fade

School here starts on Monday, and this week is full of orientation week events. It already feels like things are in full swing, so before I get totally swept up in the current of a new academic year, I want to tell you about a few things I’ve read since my last Unraveled Wednesday post.

The biggie is Les Miserables.* This book is huge in every way. I almost feel like if I keep reading it I’ll eventually find all the answers to everything. The “digressions” are insane–we’re talking thirty, forty, fifty pages. But just about the time I’d start to feel frustrated with the side path Hugo was taking, I’d realize that he was heading toward the absolute heart of everything. He talks about the “spectacle of the human soul,” the “infinity that each man carries within him,” and he digs into the details. The way Hugo manages to put so much of life that seemed beyond language into words is staggering. I can’t begin to describe here the experience of reading this book, and I won’t go on about it. For the record, though, it will be alive in me forever, and I plan to read it again, and again, and probably again after that.

The other notable book I read was Joseph Cambell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces. This is one of those books that it seems like everyone has read bits of but that not that many people have actually taken the time to read cover to cover. Having read it cover to cover, I can see why. In a lot of it, Campell’s focus is on giving examples to flesh out his idea of what he calls the Monomyth. In many cases he doesn’t explain the logic by which he chooses which myths to include in his analysis, and it almost feels like he’s picking the things that work to support his idea and ignoring the things that don’t. That said, there are parts of the book that are downright, bedrock, life-changing interesting! I’ll just give you one example.

The first chapter includes a fascinating account of how psychoanalysis now does what myth and ritual did for people of the past. Campbell points to Freud’s conception of the Oedipus complex as the main cause of our “adult failure to behave like rational beings,” and he says:

The unconscious sends all sorts of vapors, odd beings, terrors, and deluding images up into the mind–whether in dream, broad daylight, or insanity; for the human kingdom, beneath the floor of the comparatively neat little dwelling that we call our consciousness, goes down into unsuspected Aladdin’s caves. There not only jewels but also dangerous jinn abide: the inconvenient or resisted psychological powers that we have not thought or dared to integrate into our lives. . . . They are dangerous because they threaten the fabric of the security into which we have built ourselves and our family. But they are fiendishly fascinating too, for they carry the keys that open the whole realm of the desired and feared adventure of the discovery of the self.

Riveting stuff!

Finally, I wanted to mention Charles Frazier’s Varina about the life Varina Davis, wife of confederate president Jefferson Davis. I didn’t like this book well as Cold Mountain, but I’m glad I read it. It was not what I expected, and I learned some things I didn’t know.

Now, on to KNITTING!!

I have just added the last color to my Find Your Fade shawl.

My plan is to join Dana over at Yards of Happiness for her Tecumseh knit along. That starts after Labor Day, so I’m setting September 2nd as my Fade deadline. Normally, that would not seem at all difficult, but with the craziness of school’s starting I’m not so sure. Wish me luck! I cannot WAIT to wear this beast!

Be sure to head over to As Kat Knits to see what others are reading and knitting this week!


*Julie Rose’s translation is incredible. Unless you’re reading this in French, I can’t imagine a better way to go.


  1. Great reads, Melinda! I have always been curious about Les Mis, and now you’ve given me strong reason to read it myself. Thanks for sharing the Campbell quote, as well (I tried reading it cover to cover, but ended up just watching the PBS series with Bill Moyers instead, lol). That quote is a great one and full of fascinating stuff; I can’t help but get inspired by Campbell. I’m glad to hear that the last colour is going onto the shawl, too. I wish you Yarnspeed!

    • melinda

      Haha! That’s funny about Campbell, and I totally get it. My insistence on reading all of it was probably a little perverse, but once I’d decided to do it, it became a thing. LOL He takes a lot of hits, but there is definitely something exhilarating in Campbell’s ideas, especially if you don’t look too closely. Thanks for the good wishes on my Fade! It’s been the perfect project for this crazy summer.

  2. I love your Fade!! Just the perfect thing to have as the weather cools and the leaves begin to turn.

    I admire your reading list. Me, I’m immersed in murder mysteries and science fiction books. You’ve inspired me to start highlighting some of the good quotes and to think a little more reflectively about what I’m reading. I’m in the middle of Sweet Little (Caz Frear) which is really holding my interest and I’m dying for the next Michael Connelly book to arrive.

    I looked at Tecumseh, but I had already stashed the yarn for Guthrie (Caitlin Hunter) and since it has stolen my heart it will be fall knitting sweater. I still have two more to knock out before it… must knit faster!!

    • melinda

      Thank you so much, Marilyn! You are one of the main reasons I succumbed to Fade knitting in the first place. After seeing your last gorgeous Fade, I just couldn’t resist any longer. 😉

      I’m a huge fan of murder mysteries. I’ve read some Michael Connelly and enjoyed him, but I haven’t read Caz Frear yet. She has been on my list, but now I’ll have even more reason to get to her. Can’t wait to see your Guthrie! There might have to be one of those in my future too. 🙂

      • Be careful… it’s hard to stop with only one fade. I really like my What the Fade?! as it is the perfect shawl for snuggling while knitting and is a good choice for travel.

        This is Caz’s first book; I’m reading it for my reading group. I binge watch British murder mysteries on NetFlix, and this book is like one of them with the psychological suspense of a Ruth Ware book thrown in. I’m hooked and reading into the wee hours of the morning. I’m also listening to an audio book while knitting (Maggie Hope spy thriller) and so far haven’t gotten them mixed up.

        The kids are alll back in school here. So strange to see them heading off to school without me, but then I head back to bed with my late and a book and I’m over it. 🙂

        • melinda

          For some reason the whole fade concept is like potato chips. It’s hard to stop! LOL Love thinking of you snuggled up with the kitties knitting, reading, and mystery watching. 🙂

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