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Connecting with coloring: 13 coloring books to help adults rest from their stress

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In a world moving in an increasingly digital direction, a return to simpler times can provide a welcome diversion, and some say spending time with a coloring book could do the trick.

According to a Deseret News article published last year, “Adult coloring enthusiasts believe that in today’s world of constant connectivity, coloring books take adults to a place of mindfulness and peace that’s often missing from the stress-filled, screen-obsessed focus of modern life and work.”

Here is a list of 13 coloring books that have crossed our desks and that may appeal to adults.

“THE MINDFULNESS COLORING BOOK: Anti-Stress Art Therapy for Busy People,” by Emma Farrarons, The Experiment, $9.95, 100 pages

“The act of coloring … is particularly suited to mindful meditation,” reads the introduction to this coloring book. The designs to be colored are fairly random and include flowers, waves, squares, animals, fruit and many abstract patterns. Some don't appear to be carefully planned or thought out, as though the author ran out of ideas. The book's size of 5 by 7 inches makes it convenient to slip into a bag or purse and take on the go. The pages are fairly thick but are not designed to be removed from the book, and the designs disappear into the fold of each page, making it difficult to color a page in its entirety.

“THE MINDFULNESS COLORING BOOK — VOLUME TWO: More Anti-Stress Art Therapy for Busy People,” by Emma Farrarons, The Experiment, $9.95, 100 pages

Like its predecessor, this coloring book features an array of whimsical designs and patterns to color, the same convenient travel size, and the same binding that prevents pages from being easily removed.

“I HEART COLORING,” by Felicity French, Price Stern Sloan, $9.99, 128 pages

At 6 inches square, this book can be easy to stow in a bag, purse or even pocket. The double-sided pages aren't as thick as in other coloring books, and markers may bleed through to the other side of a page. The fanciful designs range in theme from lamps to sea turtles to clocks to pastries, but each illustration looks polished and intentional. Illustrations that take up a full page are surrounded by a thin border, making it possible to color the entire image without anything disappearing into the book's binding. The pages are not designed to be removed.

“I HEART CUTE COLORING,” by Jess Bradley, Price Stern Sloan, $9.99, 128 pages

This book’s size, design and paper are the same as found with “I Heart Coloring,” but the illustrations are vastly different, featuring a dizzying quantity of “cute” critters and more open spaces for coloring. This coloring book would likely be a better fit for children and the exceptionally young at heart.

“I HEART COLORING FLOWERS,” by Lizzie Preston and Jane Ryder-Gray, Price Stern Sloan, $9.99, 128 pages

Flowers fill the pages of this coloring book, which has the same size, overall design and page quality of the other coloring books in the I Heart series. Unlike the other two books, this one stays more rooted in its floral designs. Illustrations of real flowers along with their English name and scientific name — Lily (Lilium), Pincushion Cactus (Mammillaria) and Pimpernel (Anagallis), among others — come along every few pages.

“RUTH HELLER’S SEASONS,” by Ruth Heller, Grosset & Dunlap, $9.99, 48 pages

This coloring book is refreshingly easy to use and lends itself to more coloring options than many of its contemporaries. Beyond the cover, the illustrations are presented in art pad form. Each drawing is outlined in shades of gray, rather than black, and the pages are single-sided and designed to be removed and displayed. The thick paper can handle anything from crayons to colored pencils to markers to watercolors. The illustrations are divided by the four seasons and feature a variety of snowflakes, flowers, seashells and leaves.

“RUTH HELLER’S ANIMALS,” by Ruth Heller, Grosset & Dunlap, $9.99, 48 pages

“Animals” features all the same benefits as its companion “Seasons” but offers different subjects to color with its beautifully illustrated menagerie of animals and fish.

“MILLIE MAROTTA’S WILD SAVANNAH,” by Millie Marotta, Lark Crafts, $14.95, 96 pages

Many tiny spaces work together to create the grassland animals and habitats illustrated in this coloring book, which means completing a page may take a long time but can produce exciting results. Illustrator Millie Marotta teamed up with the Born Free Foundation for the release of the book and “plans to aid Born Free with its work in Kenya helping people to live in harmony with wild animals by encouraging local schoolchildren to engage with wildlife through art,” according to a news release. The book’s fairly thick pages are double-sided and not designed to be removed.

“DOCTOR WHO COLORING BOOK,” by James Newman Gray, Lee Teng Chew and Jan Smith, Price Stern Sloan, $14.99, 96 pages

Fans of the BBC TV series “Doctor Who” can give color to some iconic scenes and symbols, with hidden items to find throughout the book as well as quotes from the show. Those who are unfamiliar with the series are likely to find several images very strange. The intricacy of the illustrations varies, giving some nice variety. The pages are single-sided apart from a miniature copy of the front side’s illustration and an accompanying quote on the back of each page. The pages are not designed to be removed from the book.

“THE NEON COLORING BOOK,” by Richard Merritt, Amanda Hillier and Felicity French, Price Stern Sloan, $12.99, 128 pages

Bucking the trend of intricate designs to be carefully colored is this coloring book, the illustrations of which have thick, bold lines as well as plenty of neon pink and orange already in place, with many designs featuring white images against black backgrounds. The back of the book recommends that highlighters, gel pens and markers be put to use filling in the white space — a task that for this coloring book is likely to appeal to children more than adults. The book’s pages are double-sided and are not designed to be removed.

“COOK’S COLORING BOOK: Simple Recipes for Beginners,” by Rachel Lewis, Gibbs Smith, $12.99, 144 pages

This combination cookbook and coloring book offers 60 recipes designed with the beginning chef in mind, though many approach more of an intermediate level. Colorable line drawings illustrate both the ingredients lists and the finished products. As a coloring book, this might not bring as much joy as other options, but for anyone who likes to both color and cook, it could make a great gift. The recipes are divided into categories including "Breakfasts," "Salads and Sides," "Main Courses" and "Sweet Treats," and many require 10 or fewer ingredients.

“POSH ADULT COLORING BOOK: Thomas Kinkade Designs for Inspiration and Relaxation,” by Thomas Kinkade, Andrews McMeel Publishing, $12.99, 128 pages

Aspiring artists who want their work to be reminiscent of the late painter Thomas Kinkade’s can draw a little nearer that goal with this coloring book, which opens to show a full-color image of a Kinkade painting on the left with a corresponding simplified coloring page on the right. The images mostly feature cottages surrounded by woods, water or flowers. It’s up to the colorer to decide whether to try to stay true to the original or blaze a new trail. The book’s pages are double-sided and are not designed to be removed.

“THE FARMER’S WIFE SAMPLER QUILT COLORING BOOK: Color 70 Classic Quilt Designs From Your Favorite Sampler Collection,” by Laurie Aaron Hird and Missy Shepler, Fons & Porter, $14.99, 144 pages

Seventy designs from “The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt” are included in this coloring book, with seven overall quilts and nine blocks for each, according to its introduction. The paper is off-white and the designs are in sepia-tone ink, creating a pleasing old-fashioned effect, and the pages are single-sided and perforated along the binding for easy removal, allowing for finished “quilts” to be assembled if desired. This book could easily lend inspiration to aspiring quilters or provide a pleasant diversion for accomplished ones who’d like to return to another favorite pastime.

Email: rbrutsch@deseretnews.com