Adult colouring books offer something for everyone – and we mean everyone. Golfer Tyrrell Hatton chose colouring to decompress while competing in the Masters in 2021; even busy parents have recognised the unexpected joy that comes from picking up a crayon and spending the better part of an hour shading in a dinosaur alongside their kids.
They seem especially relevant as we emerge from lockdown life after a tumultuous and painful year. Whether we’re seeking to reignite our creativity or need to stop ourselves from doom-scrolling social media feeds for hours, colouring can help.
"Colouring is a fantastic way to keep your mind gently occupied, while allowing it time to process all the information and emotions that you’ve accumulated throughout the day, so that you can rest more deeply and peacefully at night," Dot Zacharias, sleep coach and COO of the Nourish App, a mental wellness app for parents, says.
We’ve spent over 25 hours with felt tips and colouring pencils, shading and doodling in the books below over the past month (this roundup consists primarily of new releases, with a couple of older books that are worth checking out, too).
What we’ve found most surprising – in a good way – is that every time we start to colour in a picture, we look up from the page to find an hour or more has flown by. Colouring is completely immersive, and yes, we do find it immensely relaxing.
The most important thing to remember? Throw out any preconceived rules. You didn’t need to colour in the lines as a child, and you certainly don’t now.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
The best adult colouring books for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Worlds of Wonder: A Colouring Book for the Curious by Johanna Basford: £14.99, Waterstones.com
- Best for teaching you something new – The Modern Witch Tarot Coloring Book by Lisa Sterle: £12.99, Waterstones.com
- Best for the eco-minded – Millie Marotta’s Woodland Wild: £9.99, Waterstones.com
- Best for gifting – Botanicum Special Edition Coloring Book illustrated by Maria Trolle: £10.62, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for music lovers – The Official Thin Lizzy colouring book: £12.99, Eyesoremerch.com
- Best for hedonistic escapism –Tales from the Midnight Masquerade illustrated by Hanna Karlzon: £7.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for drawing and colouring – Rosie Flo’s Dog Show Colouring Concertina: £4.99, Rosieflo.co.uk
- Best for the pop-culture enthusiast –The Shady Queen Drag Queen Colouring Book UK edition by Louise Woods: £6.99, Etsy.com
- Best for paint by numbers fans – Van Gogh: Colour by Dots: £5, Theworks.co.uk
- Best for fashion fiends – Fashion Doodling and Colouring by Frances Moffatt: £8.19, Whsmith.co.uk
- Best for mandalas – Be Stress Free And Colour by Lacy Mucklow and Angela Porter: £7.99, Waterstones.com
- Best for colouring in people – Herstory Colouring Books: The Great Irish Women Colouring Book by Diana Matos Gagic: £6.99,Etsy.com