Posted in Writing

Coloured Judgement

A post in praise of colouring

cover of colouring for calm
More effective than Prozac but much more addictive

One of this summer’s publishing sensations has been the adult colouring book. In this context, “adult” doesn’t have the same connotations as in “adult films”. They are simply colouring books designed to appeal to grown-ups.

Why colouring? Why now?

In a culture characterised by quick response times and a general desire for instant gratification, any activity that cannot be hurried, from colouring to crochet, from needlepoint to knitting, provides a welcome excuse to slow down and savour the moment. The regular activity of rubbing a pencil back and forth to fill in a defined space without going over the lines can no more be hurried than knitting can ever be a speed sport. Colouring relaxes the brain into a meditative state.

But what I don’t get is the need to create special colouring books for adults. I’m happy colouring children’s books, filled with mermaids, unicorns and other distractions from the stresses of daily life.

cover of Lady Chatterley's lover
Literary colour

Just as J K Rowling’s publishers brought out special editions of Harry Potter books to facilitate unembarrassed reading on the commuter train, I think they should simply camouflage the covers of children’s colouring books for adult consumption.

So if you spot me any time soon hunched over a book covered in brown paper, wielding a blue pencil, it doesn’t mean I’m personally censoring Lady Chatterley’s Lover. I’ll just be colouring in Bob the Builder’s dungarees.

cover of Bob the Builder colouring book
“Can we colour it? Yes, we can! “

This post was originally written for the September issue of Hawkesbury Parish News, the local community newspaper serving the village in which I have lived for nearly 25 years and for which I write a monthly column on any topic that takes my fancy as the deadline approaches. (There’s nothing like an imminent deadline for focusing the mind.) If you enjoyed this column, you might also like these recent articles: 


English author of warm, witty cosy mystery novels including the popular Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries and the Gemma Lamb/St Bride's School series. Novels published by Boldwood Books, all other books by Hawkesbury Press. Represented by Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agents. Founder and director of the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival. Course tutor for Jericho Writers. UK Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors. Lives and writes in her Victorian cottage in the heart of the beautiful Cotswold countryside.

10 thoughts on “Coloured Judgement

    1. Big decision, Carol! I started off with some nice chunky pencils (hands a bit stiff due to RA) but needed finer points. Switched to bargain pack of Sharpies bought in back-to-school sale – never used them before and they are fab, but fumes are a bit strong! Now onto cheap felt tips but colouring books have to have good quality paper otherwise you get the colour showing through on the next page. The really classy books for professional colourers (!) have the design printed on one side only to avoid this problem. Even better when the pages are perforated so that you can tear out the design you want to do and have it completely flat without having to hold the book open. Fussy, me? 😉

    2. With your medical hat on, Carol, you might like to know that a friend of mine who has just had major brain surgery found colouring very therapeutic while convalescing – doing some colouring really helped her become relaxed enough to have her ventilator removed. Impressive stuff.

  1. True, coloring kids books would also be fun. I bought a mandala one to use at my workshops, given the type of work it is. It was a better fit to bring mandalas than Bob the Builder. 🙂

  2. Funny you should mention unicorns – the Coloring Book of Horses (spelling aimed at the US market, available on Amazon) has a unicorn plus lots and lots of horses. (For adults OR younger). But this not just me shamelessly self-promoting on your blog post – what I’d be interested to see is which of your tags – Bob the Builder or Lady Chatterley’s Lover – gets your blog the most hits …

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