Book Review: The Mental Load by Emma

The Mental Load by Emma
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 26, 2018
Source: Borrowed

In her first book of comic strips, French artist Emma reflects on social and feminist issues by means of simple line drawings, dissecting the mental load, ie all that invisible and unpaid organizing, list-making and planning women do to manage their lives, and the lives of their family members. Most of us carry some form of mental load – about our work, household responsibilities, financial obligations and personal life; but what makes up that burden and how it’s distributed within households and understood in offices is not always equal or fair. 

In her strips Emma deals with themes ranging from maternity leave (it is not a vacation!), domestic violence, the clitoris, the violence of the medical world on women during childbirth, and other feminist issues, and she does so in a straightforward way that is both hilarious and deadly serious. If you’re not laughing, you’re probably crying in recognition. Emma’s comics also address the everyday outrages and absurdities of immigrant rights, income equality, and police violence. 

I guess I should start off this review by saying that before I stumbled upon this book in a local bookstore, I had never heard of Emma or her blog. I think this will be a fairly short review because I don’t have a ton of thoughts about this book — I appreciate what it’s aiming to do, but I don’t necessarily think it’s a groundbreaking piece of work.

The thing is, the people that are going to pick up this book are likely people who already agree with the author. I can’t imagine many people who are anti-feminist picking up a book that literally says “a feminist comic” on the front cover. I didn’t find much in this book that was new to me, despite the fact that I don’t necessarily consider myself well-read when it comes to feminist theory.

I think my favorite section of this book, and the one that was most interesting to me, was the one titled “You Should Have Asked.” This is where Emma brings up the mental load — the extra work that women in heterosexual relationships stereotypically have to do. I found myself nodding along as I read, recognizing behavior from past relationships and finally realizing what had been wrong that I hadn’t been able to put into words.

Aside from that, the book is mostly a collection of the author’s thoughts on several highly political topics. I agreed with some and disagreed with others. I wasn’t really pulled in by the art style and the font could be pretty hard to read at times, so I got distracted a lot while reading about the topics that I wasn’t terribly interested in.

Still, if you’re looking for an accessible primer for feminism, this graphic novel would be a great place to start.

Have you read The Mental Load? Can you recommend any good books dealing with feminism?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books that have been on my TBR forever!

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today is all about the books that have been on my TBR forever. I think I must have either joined Goodreads (or first started actively using it) on June 11, 2012, because that’s the day that I shelved all of these books as to-read. That means, embarrassingly, that these ten books have been on my to-read shelf for more than five and a half years.

The Top Ten Tuesday topic for February 20 is books I no longer want to read, and I think it will be interesting to compare the two lists and see if there’s any overlap. Hopefully not.  I hope that I’ll be able to cross some of these books off my list this year.


➡ Bossypants by Tina Fey
➡ One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
➡ The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini


➡ The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
➡ Delirium by Lauren Oliver


Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides


➡ Sorrow Floats by Tim Sandlin
➡ Emma by Jane Austen

What books have been hanging out on your TBR forever?