The new phenomena – colouring books

Time to dust off that pencil case from decades ago, to sharpen those points and find your eraser. Dystopian fiction or science fantasy is so passé apparently. What really cool readers want is to be able to put coloured pencil to paper (staying within the lines of course).

To the surprise of the publishers, the best selling book at Amazon’s US site for the past few weeks is a colouring book designed especially for adults. Johanna Basford, a Scottish illustrator, has sold more than a million copies of Secret Garden and 220,000 copies of her newest book, Enchanted Forest, The proud ‘artists’  are busy spreading the results of their labours across social media sites with pictures sprouting up on Instagram, Facebook and the like.

Are they all regressing to childhood to deal with a mid life crisis? Is the trend a comment on the state of television today such that people would rather switch off and get down to some artistic endeavours than watch another tv-cop series? Or is a consequence of our economic woes that people can’t afford to go out and socialise? As yet, the psychology pundits have been remarkably quiet but you can be sure that somewhere someone in academia is already dreaming up a theory. And maybe some marketing whizz kid is already thinking of promoting join-the- dots books for adults.

Are you tempted by the idea of revisiting your childhood? or are you so talented you can turn out a passable work of art without the need for someone to hold your hand?


About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on April 9, 2015, in Book Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. I found them useful once when getting over a bout of really bad chronic fatigue. I felt like I was doing something and it was distracting and sort of soothing. I often think that everything I do day in day out is about words, and that it would be nice to have a different craft to try every now and then – given I have no ability to sew, knit, take photos, paint or sing! So I’m half tempted, though I haven’t done anything about it yet.

  2. Ugh! I am so happy I have left coloring books behind. As a kid I never enjoyed them, and would be bored to death when people offered me coloring books to keep me quiet. I would much rather have had a proper book to read. This is a trend I am going to skip 🙂

  3. I often wondered if it was the latent child in me, or the fact that I’ve taught third grade for a bajillion years, that loves to color. Or, the idea anyway. Maybe what I really love is the scent of a new box of crayons; every year I buy myself a new 64 box, because my mother never saw the need for such a luxury. (Lest I give the wrong impression, she bought other extravagances.) Anyway, I’ve just accepted the review of Coloring Flower Mandalas because I liked the ones in the animal mandalas so well. Apparently, it’s very relaxing to the mind to do such an activity as coloring. Children, they’re so rarely wrong…

    • I don’t think I have touched a box of crayons since I was about 7 years old. How do you use the new ones you buy every year Bellezza?

      • They are in use in my classroom; both the children and I wear them down to the nub! You can’t believe how often this fifty-something year old colors…;)

  4. Back in the late 1970s, a young woman who worked with me at an investment company confessed that she kept coloring books and crayons under her bed and colored when she felt anxious.

    I suppose the coloring books take away any stress at not being a capable artist while giving the colorer the artistic freedom Dylan Thomas writes about in A Child’s Christmas in Wales: a painting book in which I could make the grass, the trees, the sea and the animals any colour I pleased, and still the dazzling sky-blue sheep are grazing in the red field under the rainbow-billed and pea-green birds

  5. Actually, I have several connect the dots books for adults! I find them soothing, just as I imagine others must find coloring. Why should play be reserved for children?

  6. This cracks me up. One of the few things that my mother and could actually enjoy together, even in later adulthood, was coloring! I love this! 🙂

  7. People want reading to be as entertaining as watching TV. Most of what’s on TV is mind-numbingly bad so people expect the same from their books. No wonder poorly written ya and adult romance is so popular.

    • I know YA and adult romance are hugely successful if you just look at the number of sales. Some of them are well written of course but I can’t see the appeal at all.

  8. Dover publications have had colouring books of all kinds for ever, all kinds of subjects and patterns. in the 80’s my then very challenging teenager took on Celtic knots and other such designs – and with great patience

  9. I know my mom uses it as a coping mechanism, for various things, but she’s been limited to Disney Princesses, or “Cars” and other juvenile things. These were awesome and I definitely just ordered them for her!

  10. How interesting …
    I am a painter and I know that I paint to escape into another world, and specifically a colour world, so perhaps this is what it is all about. Colouring books would be very safe, with all the lines to guide you. It’s got to be better than video games at any rate.

  11. I’ve watched this from afar, but have yet to be sucked in. I found some B&W Mandalas (sp?) on the internet about 15 years ago, ready for colouring in, so it’s not quite a new thing but still. Zentangles have also been around for a long time (10+ years?) that tap into the subconcious doodlng…..

    • The new director at our local library just held a Zentangle workshop but I was unable to attend due to a prior commitment! Really anxious for a repeat so I can participate the next time! Sounds cool!

      • Do it! if it hasnt come up in the next few months, ask for it! I’m all for the support of local libraries and finding new ways of bringing people in, and if this kind of “training” is one of them, then why not? Meanwhile I was at an ICHF event in Birmingham the other week that had a Zentangle stall at it. Another source of the stuff (who got quite upset when I suggested on another blog that perhaps zentangle wasnt – gasp!! – free because of all the additional stuff you could uy to support your habit. Apparently the word I am looking for is “Anyway….”!

      • it does sound good – I’ve never come across any workshops over here on this though

    • I had to do an Internet search to find out what Zentangles are. What I found was so interesting I’m going to take some paper and pencil with me on my holiday next week and have a go. Thanks for leading me to this discovery Nordie. For others who similarly had no clue what this is about, check out this site

  12. A friend of mine who works in the Scottish Prison Service told me they were really popular amongst many female inmates (she didn’t mention men, but that’s because she doesn’t work with them, so maybe they love them too?!) She says they found them especially useful when some of the more stressed or anxious girls got into them, as it calmed them down. I’ve seen The Secret Garden book, and it’s beautiful, but not something I’d do. I think an audio book is excellent for calming me down and taking worries out of my head!

    • Maybe its the repetitive nature of the task plus the level of concentration required to stay within the lines that helps them focus on something other than their problem.

  13. I’m quite happy to admit that I’ve taken up colouring books at 53. I find it a very soothing way to deal with insomnia, helps my brain relax so I can sleep on those occasions where other activities (even reading) can be over-stimulating. I felt very silly for about 10 minutes and then stopped caring.

    • Insomnia is a miserable experience so if you found something that works, don’t worry about how others think. On the, thankfully very rare, occasions I experienced the problem, I found that an audio book helped.

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