Review: The Hillbilly Elegy

As part of my Introduction to Miami class, we were required to read the Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir written by J. D. Vance.  Even though it was a ‘mandatory’ read, I enjoyed Vance’s intermingled story of his childhood and his analysis of the biggest problems plaguing his community.  It is both a tale of tragic undoing and personal triumph, of sub-cultural devastation and unique opportunities.

IMG_2767Yet, even while maintaining a strong sense of personal narrative, I certainly have some critiques for Vance’s style of narration.  Specifically, his propagation of hillbilly stereotypes in the whole of Appalachia.

What I liked the most about this book was his matter-of-fact tone and his ability to look past his mom and family’s sometimes disappointing behavior and understand the aspects of their less fortunate childhoods that lead them to act in that way; his mom’s substance abuse wasn’t wholly the result of her erratic adulthood (although she was at least partially to blame).  To paraphrase Vance: he felt anger for the present that she chose, but sympathy for the childhood she couldn’t help.

J.D. Vance really delves deep into the almost total isolation of his culture, and explained the differences between ignorance, lack of opportunities, and lack of the tools necessary to profit from those opportunities.  But, instead of limiting this to his own experience, he carries it forward and suggests in a ‘preachy’ way that this is the same for all of people like this.

Furthermore, I feel like in some ways, Vance, though proclaiming his own humility, seemed to be a little arrogant.  He often deprecated himself by saying he had accomplished nothing, then a few pages later, went on to highlight how much he had done as a Yale student, in the marines, etc.  I feel like some parts of ignorance were a little exaggerated; like the fact that he didn’t know he had to wear a suit to an interview, yet he had already spent years in college and in the marines.  Also, the fact that after spending so much time being educated, he still felt like it was acceptable to jump out of his car and attempt to attack someone at an intersection after they cut him off.

Even though in some ways this is a ‘problem’ memoir that faces a lot of backlash for its over-simplifying and often insulting portrayal of Appalachian culture, I would still recommend this read whether you are from a similar past or not.  I still believe that we could learn from Vance’s words so long as we don’t take his words as truth for an entire subgroup of today’s American society.

Have you read Hillbilly Elegy?  What were your thoughts on the book? Comment below!




5 College Hacks for a Stress-Free Move-In Day

While I’ve got to admit up front that there is no way I’m even close to someone you would consider a move-in expert, I certainly learned a few things while moving in to my dorm room.

  1. Stay Patient.  This may be a given, but I’d just like to stress that move-in days are not meant to be efficient.  At Miami, I got lucky with a very flowing and organized process, with a lot of volunteers who helped people take their things to their room quickly and keep it moving.  But, even so, it would be easy to get frustrated with the sheer number of people all trying to accomplish the same thing.
  2. Take your time.  Again, the same sort of advice, but I think it needs to be said.  You are moving into your home away from home, and so its important to set things up the way you like it, no matter how long it takes you to do so.
  3. Storage is key.  This may go without saying, and this is technically a pre-move in day necessity, but I’m going to reiterate it here.  From hanging hooks, to caddies that snap onto either side of the mini fridge to hold your things, even to storage units for snacks, it all is important!
  4. Bring more…you can always take it back!  As long as it fits in the car, I say- bring it along!  Remember, your parents can always take it back, but its better to have too much and send some home, then regret leaving something behind and not having the option to go get it for a while!
  5. Last but not least- let your parents help!  Moving in is just as hard for parents as for kids (if not harder), so always remember to include them in the process whenever you can.


There you have it!  Here are just a few suggestions that I learned from my own move in experiences!

Meeting My Roommate

Welcome back to Bibliophilia!

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 2.18.40 PMToday, I’m sitting down with my fabulous roommate Rachel, to interview her about what it’s really like to live with me.  Rachel dishes on the nitty gritty, from my most annoying habits, to how clean I actually am.

Rachel is a freshman at Miami, studying journalism and professional writing.  She’s from St. Louis and has a 16 year old sister.  For fun she likes to read and write.


Mady: Hey Rachel!  Thank for letting me interview you today.  How have you liked life at Miami so far? 

Rachel: I love it! All of the people here are so friendly, and I love all of my classes, especially my journalism ones.

Mady: On a scale from 1-10, how good of a roommate am I?  You can be honest…but maybe not too honest…

Rachel: Probably a 9. 

Mady: That’s a lot higher than I thought it would be!  What’s my most annoying habit?

Rachel: You don’t have any super annoying habits, but you do forget to take out the trash.

Mady:  True, but at least I’m only responsible for it half of the time…On a scale of 1-5, how clean do you think I am?

Rachel: 4…you’re definitely a lot cleaner than me.


Mady:   I’m sure that will come as a surprise to my parents or anyone who’s seen my room back home!  What’s something that you’ve learned about me that you wouldn’t have known if you didn’t live with me?

Rachel: You think literally everything is recyclable.  Like empty popcorn containers. And plastic bags. And soup containers dripping tomato sauce. Also, you change outfits a lot throughout the day (although you have been doing that less).

Mady: Thanks so much for being a guest on my blog!  Let’s end with this- what piece of advice would you offer freshmen when they move in with a roommate possibly for the first time?

Rachel: I would say just to listen and be open to the other person’s opinions. Sharing a room possibly for the first time ever can be hard, and I think discussing potential problems that might arise before they happen is a good way to prevent conflict.

Mady: I agree- it definitely makes a difference if you set expectations from the beginning.  Thanks again!


Thanks so much for reading everyone!  What did you think of what Rachel had to say about living with me?  Leave it in the comments below!  And don’t forget to check here often for more posts about college, life, books, and more!  See you soon!

“I lived in a world that at any moment could erupt into fire. It was the sort of knowledge that kept you on your toes.” -Jeannette Walls

Review: The Glass Castle


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The Glass Castle movie picture, found on Rotten Tomatoes.

Thanks for clicking!  Today I’m sharing a book and movie review of the Glass Castle, a memoir by Jeannette Walls turned into a movie, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton.  It just so happened that I finished reading the book a few weeks before the movie came out, so I really enjoyed comparing the movie with the book and seeing Walls’ words come to life through the incredible acting of Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts, Brie Larson, and others.

“I cried my eyelashes off.” -Rachel Lindsey

Both the book and the movie caused me to experience almost every human emotion possible; from ugly crying unstoppably, to laughing at the lovable yet cruel parents; I loved every minute of the movie.  Woody Harrelson was especially good in this role – if he doesn’t win some sort of award for his performance, I will be shocked.  He played Rex Walls, Jeannette’s dad, who despite his love for her and his undoubtable sense of adventure, couldn’t keep it together long enough to take care of his family.  So, he left Jeannette and her siblings Brian, Lori, and Maureen to raise themselves and find a way to survive and ultimately, to escape.  I loved how they focused on the complex but loving relationship between Jeannette and Rex, and how despite everything, she still wanted to believe in her dad.

The only thing I didn’t think the movie captured well was Naomi Watts’ character. While I had no problem with her portrayal of Jeannette’s mom, I think that the script writers made her seem more normal than the way she was presented in Walls’ memoir.  They left out the parts where she spent her entire paycheck on art supplies or candy bars that she hid and kept to herself even though her children hadn’t eaten for days.  Also, the part where Rosemary’s inheritance gives her two free houses but she instead selfishly chooses to make her children squat in abandoned buildings without running water or heat in the winter, was totally omitted but, in my opinion, necessary in understanding why Jeannette had such a hard time getting along with her mom.

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Still, both the book and the movie are ones that I would highly recommend- it certainly caused me to realize how lucky I am, and how incredible it was that all the Walls children managed to survive, thrive, and eventually, learn to love their parents for who they could have been instead of who they were.



Dorm Room Reveal

Thanks for clicking!  Today’s post is one I’ve been looking forward to for a long time- today is my dorm room reveal!

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I went with a black, silver, and gold color scheme for my comforter and storage spaces, to better set off the colors of my pictures, posters, pillows, and other decorations.


I learned very quickly that college prep is all about maximizing and creating extra storage, which is what I tried to do here.  I really love this ivory colored library cart that is both cute and functional, and of course my other storage units that matched the color of my bedspread.


You’ll notice I also went with a kind of literary theme, including pillows and posters of some of my favorite books.  And of course, college wouldn’t be complete without bring a few new reads with me!


It was also really important for me to surround myself with not only posters of my favorite movies and books, but also with pictures of the people I love.  I printed out TONS of pictures at CVS that I’ve tacked them all around my walls and a few collages on my desk.  Since I’m not living at home this year, I thought I’d bring the most important elements of home with me!

I’m so excited to start my freshman year at Miami, and this has room is a great start! I love all of my decorations and my pictures especially- I was able to create a patch of home that will keep me sane and happy while I go on new adventures!


Thanks for reading!  I’ll see you next time here at Bibliophilia!  If you haven’t, please follow for email reminders to check back for updated blog posts!

Styled by Kate!

Hello everyone!  Here at Bibliophilia today, I’m doing my first ever collaboration with one of my high school friends, Kate, who runs my favorite blog: Kate’s Internet Cafe – definitely go follow her if you haven’t already!

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Kate and I graduated together, and while I go off to Miami, Kate is going to study audio engineering at Belmont.  She really loves fashion, beauty, and of course, music, and hopes to have a job in the media some day.

We decided that it would be kind of fun to dress each other in our own unique styles and then photograph the results!  One of the things we have in common is our belief in championing all women, and exploring our own personal styles.

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For Kate, I decided to put her in something more colorful, since, like me, she mostly wears lots of neutrals that are loose fitting.  I had her try on this multi-colored jacket that is brighter than most of the clothes in either of our wardrobes.  Then, I paired it with one of Kate’s black shift dresses that is a tighter fit on her, and some simple black heels to accent it.  Her shoes were from DSW, and the shift dress was from Urban Outfitters.

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Overall, this was a really fun experiment and I loved letting such a stylish friend put me in something that was out of my comfort zone because of how easy-going and loose fitting it was, but that I ended up loving (you’ll have to visit Kate’s blog to see what I looked like)!



A huge thanks to Kate for doing this quick collaboration with me before heading off to college, and to our best friend Addy, who was nice enough to have lunch with us and unknowingly become the photographer for this post.

As always, don’t forget to follow Kate’s blog (click the link above), and follow me, here at Bibliophilia to get emails about new posts!





To see how Kate dressed me, head on over to her blog, Kate’s Internet Cafe to see her post! 


College Countdown: Holistic Life = Happy Life

With my college move literally a few days away, I’ve decided to share a few of my thoughts about the importance of taking care of myself holistically.  For a long time, I only devoted myself to more ‘intellectual’ pursuits; meaning I worked hard in school, read all the time, and that was the extent of which I took care of myself.  In short, in the equation ‘mind, body, soul’, I was caught up in the ‘mind’ category only.

But what started as a decision to lose weight soon became the understanding that I can’t completely be my best self unless I also take care of my body.  Now, I’m not perfect; I certainly have my fair share of cheat days and I don’t always eat what I should (I’m a work in progress when it comes to trying new foods- especially when they are green, leafy, and look like they could be growing in my back yard), BUT I’ve come to appreciate the efforts that I do make to monitor what and how much goes in my body.

And that’s why, while transitioning to school, I’ve made a series of small goals and challenges for myself, to try and give myself a head start to becoming the best version of me.  While I can honestly say I’m the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been, in all facets of my life, I know that it’s all about getting better and better.

I try little tips and tricks every day that seem to help me, which I’ll share here:

  1. Meditating; a few quick minutes every morning and evening can completely bring the focus inward and change my whole outlook for the day.
  2. Read more, Netflix less; I’ll admit, this is an incredibly tall order.  I often throw this practice out of the window in favor of watching another episode of the Office or of Gilmore Girls, but what’s important for me to realize is I always feel my best when I’ve read right before bed the night before.  Reading has always been a soothing activity and gives me the chance to prepare myself for the next day.
  3. Finding exercise that I like; I HATE exercising.  A lot of people talk about the mid-exercise glow, but I have never found it.  So, I’ve been looking for more creative ways of burning calories.  My two favorites are Zumba, which mom and I have been doing every Wednesday, and swimming laps in the pool (regardless of my horrible form and technique).  I try not to pay attention to how I look while doing it, or get embarrassed about how I look while dancing in public (it’s not great to say the least…), because as long as I’m being active and having fun, that’s all that counts.

Those are just a few of my lifestyle goals that I try to stick by in order to live a better life.  If you have any other tips for how to live a more holistic life, please pass them along in the comments below!