20 Best Adult Coloring Books for Unwinding and Relaxing in 2021 – Reader's Digest

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Coloring Books Product CollageColoring Books Product Collagerd.com, via amazon.com (4)
When was the last time you picked up a finely sharpened colored pencil and began shading in an illustrated image that brought you joy? If you haven’t thought about coloring since kindergarten, you’re missing out on the comfort that comes from such a simple, low-stakes hobby. Adult coloring books may not be self-help books, technically speaking, but they can do you a lot of good.
The many science-backed benefits of coloring include relaxation and stress reduction. A 2018 study in the journal The Arts in Psychotherapy even found that art therapy can help reduce pain and anxiety. Another reason adult coloring books are all the rage these days is that they provide a screen-free escape from reality that makes you feel like a kid again. And the beauty of this hobby is that there’s no wrong way to color (read: you don’t need to be a skilled artist), so leave your self-judgment at the door.
Find a topic that piques your interest—you can draw inspiration from the best books of all time, books for your zodiac sign, books by female authors, and romance novels—and then choose from among these 20 highly rated adult coloring books. Most of these selections have well over 1,000 five-star reviews from happy colorers who have found peace in the process of putting colored pencils to paper.
19worlds Of Wonder By Johanna Basford19worlds Of Wonder By Johanna Basfordvia amazon.com
Best for: Fantasy lovers
Think of this book as your gateway to wondrous worlds you’ve only dreamed about. Johanna Basford is on a mission to inspire creativity, and her die-hard fans can’t get enough—the book maintains a 4.8-star rating with nearly 3,000 reviews. Enjoy shading in tree-top castles, floating islands, and enchanted sea turtles that the talented Basford has sketched by hand. This is a must for anyone who can’t get enough fantasy books in their reading lineup.
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Mandala Illustrations From ArtezaMandala Illustrations From Artezavia amazon.com
Best for: Anyone who appreciates symmetry
Mandala means “circle” in Sanskrit, and these sacred geometric symbols are used to represent a spiritual journey. Coloring these symmetrical designs creates a calming, almost trancelike state, perfect for a dose of art therapy. Arteza makes many adult coloring books and art supplies, but this book in particular really allows creativity—there are 72 one-sided sheets that are detachable, which means you can showcase your work when you’re done. You can color while you watch TV or listen to an audiobook, but to really ditch your troubles, try focusing only on the art.
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10mama Needs A Mother Fcking Nap From Honey Badger Coloring10mama Needs A Mother Fcking Nap From Honey Badger Coloringvia amazon.com
Best for: The mom who swears like a sailor
It’s hard to keep swear words at bay around your kiddos all day long, so let them fly in all your favorite colors with this mom-approved book that’s definitely not appropriate for co-coloring with your kids. (Try these mother-daughter books for a shared reading experience instead.) It’s filled with curse words and patterns that pair well with your favorite glass of wine.
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1adult Coloring Book By Cindy Elsharouni1adult Coloring Book By Cindy Elsharounivia amazon.com
Best for: Artists who like variety
So many adult coloring books are grouped by theme, so it’s refreshing to find one book that caters to everyone. That inclusivity must be why Cindy Elsharouni’s book has over 20,000 reviews. In it, you’ll find 60 designs, from animals and mandalas to paisleys and flowers. These one-sided sheets are thick, so even your favorite gel pens and markers won’t bleed through. If you’d like to test the waters before you commit to a purchase, check out these coloring pages you can print at home for free.
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7exhale A Self Care Coloring Book By Latoya Nicole7exhale A Self Care Coloring Book By Latoya Nicolevia amazon.com
Best for: Anyone who could use some self-love
Need a little inspiration for how to incorporate some self-care acts into your daily routine? This book by a Black author features women of color reading, journaling, exercising, relaxing, and unapologetically putting themselves first. We’re so here for it. Grab your pencils and start coloring a scene you’d like to replicate in your own life.
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01 Flowers Adult Coloring Book By Jade Summer01 Flowers Adult Coloring Book By Jade Summervia amazon.com
Best for: Nature lovers
You want flowers? This book’s got flowers—100 images of them, to be exact. From roses and tulips to wreaths and bouquets, Jade Summer (who has published over 150 coloring books across every topic under the sun) delivers on all your floral fantasies. With over 11,000 positive reviews, it’s very possible that your next masterpiece lies within these pages. Now that you’re loving your self-care moments, check out these self-care gifts for some more TLC.
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4be Fearless In The Pursuit Of What Sets Your Soul On Fire From Papeterie Bleu4be Fearless In The Pursuit Of What Sets Your Soul On Fire From Papeterie Bleuvia amazon.com
Best for: Dream-chasers
Need a little push to chase your dreams? Start by coloring your very own motivational poster. With its whimsical designs and self-love quotes such as “follow your soul; it knows the way” and “some days you just have to create your own sunshine,” the world will soon be your oyster.
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3art Of Coloring Star Wars From Disney3art Of Coloring Star Wars From Disneyvia amazon.com
Best for: Wannabe Jedis
If your idea of relaxation is a drink at Mos Eisley cantina, or if your favorite reads are all science fiction books, your search for the best adult coloring books is over. Packed with Star Wars–themed illustrations and including all your favorite characters, this will transport you from the daily stresses of your life to a galaxy far, far away.
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16the Psalms In Color From Christian Art Publishers16the Psalms In Color From Christian Art Publishersvia amazon.com
Best for: Bible readers
Color in quiet contemplation or hum your favorite hymns as you move through the pages of The Psalms in Color. Just as prayer is personal, so is how you choose to use this book. It’s filled with 62 ink drawings (such as kaleidoscopic patterns and wallpaper-style prints) that incorporate Bible quotes. Nearly 4,000 reviewers have given it high praise.
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8fragile World By Kerby Rosanes8fragile World By Kerby Rosanesvia amazon.com
Best for: The eco-conscious
Too many creatures—from the Tapanuli orangutan to the hawksbill turtle—are in danger of vanishing from our planet, and soon they may be but a distant memory. This isn’t a sad book meant to mourn their disappearance but an inspiring book that’ll help you keep their magnificence top of mind. Fragile World features elaborate illustrations of 56 endangered, vulnerable, and threatened animals and landscapes.
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5disney Princess Coloring Book By Thomas Kinkade5disney Princess Coloring Book By Thomas Kinkadevia amazon.com
Best for: Disney buffs
Have you ever wanted to reimagine Snow White, Cinderella, Pocahontas, Ariel, Tiana, and the other Disney princesses? Now’s your chance to add your own spin on the colors of their skin, hair, and dresses with a collection of images based on paintings by Thomas Kinkade Studios. Sure, this book provides gorgeous, full-page color reproductions as a guide, but don’t let that stifle your creativity. Here are more great Disney gifts.
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14the Mindfulness Coloring Book By Emma Farrarons14the Mindfulness Coloring Book By Emma Farraronsvia amazon.com
Best for: Anyone who is overstressed
If you’re searching for a coloring book you can stash in your purse or in a drawer at work, look no further than the pocket-sized Mindfulness Coloring Book, just one of many adult coloring books by female authors. It’ll allow you to channel your stress into something productive without requiring too much space. The soothing flowers, butterfly, bird, and wave designs give you a moment (or longer) to recharge your batteries.
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17the Splat Coloring The '90s From Penguin Random House17the Splat Coloring The '90s From Penguin Random Housevia amazon.com
Best for: ’90s kids
Are most of your favorite memories still trapped in the ’90s? Then The Splat is calling your name. You’ll be treated to over 96 pages of super-detailed Nickelodeon artwork, featuring such shows as Rugrats, Hey Arnold, and The Ren & Stimpy Show. Many happy reviewers (and there’s over 3,500 of them) report being able to use markers and gel pens, so you know the paper is high quality.
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13sweet Home By Sally Berry13sweet Home By Sally Berryvia amazon.com
Best for: Older adults
Most coloring books require fine motor skills and eagle eyes to color within the lines, but that’s not the case with Sweet Home. Its large print and relatively simple line drawings (think: cats, flowers, and fireplaces) are ideal for both beginners and older adults. And you won’t find these designs anywhere else, as they were drawn by independent artists. For a thoughtful gift for Grandpa and Grandma, bundle Sweet Home with historical fiction books.
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6drinking Animals Coloring Book From Caffeinestar Publishing6drinking Animals Coloring Book From Caffeinestar Publishingvia amazon.com
Best for: Party animals
Not only is this 52-page book filled with hilarious illustrations of animals sipping cocktails (which would be enough of a draw on its own), but the recipes for said cocktails are also included on the page. We highly recommend gathering the necessary ingredients, shaking up your concoction, and letting the good times roll.
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9harry Potter Coloring Book From Scholastic9harry Potter Coloring Book From Scholasticvia amazon.com
Best for: Potterheads
Think Harry Potter fans love to discuss the book series? Wait until you get them talking about the Harry Potter Coloring Book, which has over 8,000 five-star reviews. Obsessed much? You bet! You’ll get the chance to color scenes straight out of one of the best children’s books ever written, from Hogwarts Castle to the Forbidden Forest and beyond. Just be sure to reach for your pencils when shading in these intricate illustrations, as gel pens and markers will bleed through.
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2african Glamour By Marjorie Sarnat And Cia Slater2african Glamour By Marjorie Sarnat And Cia Slatervia amazon.com
Best for: Fashionistas
Get ready for a couture fashion show within the pages of African Glamour, where it’s up to you to bring the stunning outlines to life. Few adult coloring books capture culture the way this one does, with its 31 classic African-inspired images of silhouetted figures wearing beautiful head wraps and flowing gowns. This book was designed for more experienced colorists and has perforated pages to showcase your final looks.
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12princess Horror By Valery Green12princess Horror By Valery Greenvia amazon.com
Best for: Horror fans
Not all adult coloring books need to be filled with fairies and flowers, and Valery Green is proving that point with Princess Horror. Unleash your creativity as you bring these scary sovereigns to life—the blood, guts, scars, and skeletons are all part of the fun. It’s a newly released horror book but is sure to become a cult classic.
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18the Tarot Coloring Book By Theresa Reed18the Tarot Coloring Book By Theresa Reedvia amazon.com
Best for: Followers of astrology
Interested in learning more about tarot cards and how to read them? Start by coloring your way through every card in a tarot deck. This book contains card-by-card insights into the symbolism and hidden wisdom of all 78 major and minor arcana. By spending so much time studying each card’s details while you color it in, you’ll easily start to memorize their meanings. From there, check out the best book for you, based on your zodiac sign.
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15the New York Housewives Coloring Book From Hello Harlot Via Alwaysfits15the New York Housewives Coloring Book From Hello Harlot Via Alwaysfitsvia alwaysfits.com
Best for: Reality TV superfans
If your love of The Real Housewives runs deep, simply tuning in to the TV show may not be enough to get your fix. Immerse yourself in the drama as it plays out on 16 hand-illustrated pages of The New York Housewives Coloring Book, which is the unofficial coloring book for superfans. Only true RHONY fans will get all the inside jokes in this one.
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