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Time to go out and pick up some crayons, because America is in the midst of a massive, and grown-up, coloring binge.
The #1 and #2 books on Amazon right now aren’t mystery novels, courtroom thrillers or the latest dystopian Young Adult book series/aspiring film franchise. No, Amazon’s top books right now are coloring books. For adults. Written by the same person.
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The #1 book, “Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book” by Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford, has already sold 1.4 million copies in 22 languages worldwide, according to the New York Times. Basford’s sophomore effort, released in February, is #2 on Amazon’s best seller list.
(Photo: Lawrence King Publishing)
Basford’s not the only coloring book artist cashing in on the trend. Authors such as Patricia J. Wynne, Richard Merritt and Millie Marotta are also making noise on bestseller lists.
Country superstar Miranda Lambert recently outed herself as a coloring book fan when she posted on Instagram a picture of a Lisa Frank coloring book, a Michelob Ultra and the hashtag “#BeerandCrayons.”
So why is it that adults are rabidly coloring in these books as quickly as publishers can churn them out? When Yahoo Makers posted about Lambert’s coloring habit, our readers wrote in in droves to share their own colorful adventures. And from their comments, we’re able to identify four common reasons grown-ups decide to get their Crayolas on.
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Reliving the simplicity of childhood — where a brand new coloring book and a fresh, 64-crayon box of crayons was the ultimate indulgence — is a refreshing feeling. As Yahoo Makers reader and 42-year-old coloring book fan “nikkita” told us: “Childhood memories are the best times, no worries and all the time in the world to have fun.”
Psychologists frequently rave about the stress-relieving effects of coloring. Yahoo Makers reader “EJM” told us that coloring helped ease his fear of flying. “On a flight 5 years ago I was having a hard time,” he wrote us. “A fellow passenger, a young mother traveling with 3 small children, saved the day: She gave me a coloring book and crayons. Now I never leave home without my dollar store coloring book and crayons. I am a 65-year-old man and don’t care who sees it. No more meds when flying.”
Yes, the pictures are drawn for you, but the color scheme is all up to you. And the possibilities are endless. As the New York Times reports, a sizable chunk of Basford’s coloring book sales are from people re-purchasing her books to try out different colors. A coloring book is like having your own canvas where you know every creation is going to be something different. And amazing. “I have NO artistic talent,” our reader “Kimberly” wrote us. “I can’t paint, draw, sing, play an instrument etc. But I love to pretend I’m artistic by coloring AND it’s super relaxing.”
Just like when we were kids, when we’d color with the rest of our kindergarten class during “Quiet Time,” adults are finding that coloring is an activity best enjoyed in groups. Coloring group clubs are sprouting up all over the country. Some even serve wine (good luck with “quiet time” in those groups!). Some are even doing it at work. “Mrs. K” wrote: “I worked at a job where we were tied to our phones relentlessly just in case a customer called. When we were slow, we weren’t allowed to read or knit or even talk very much. The company noticed that it was kind of affecting morale and started providing coloring books, colored pens and pencils, and crayons. They even had contests with small prizes. It was freaky how much that boosted morale.”
With publishers unable to churn out these coloring books fast enough, grownups will have plenty of opportunity to indulge their growing new habit.
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