Libraries, pubs, and other gathering places have embraced adult coloring as a therapeutic activity, one that relaxes the mind and encourages the creative spirit. Perhaps, once they’ve colored in the pictures of Chuck Palahnuik’s newest short story collection being released this fall, they will need professional therapy. The author of American classic Fight Club has written stories about “the Titanic, a scatological internet campaign, an animal psychic, and one girl’s involvement with an extinction-level event” that you can color along with! Art will be supplied by Lee Bermejo, Kirbi Fagan, Duncan Fegredo, Alise Gluškova, Joëlle Jones, Steve Morris, Tony Puryear and Marc Scheff.
While the craze seemed to have started with the dreamy, delicate, black-and-white worlds of Johanna Basford, it appears this shit is now officially out of control. “From knitting crazes to mindfulness training centers, Americans today will take anything they can get to escape the hum of their perceived hyper-connectivity and overwork,” says Quartz. Even podcasts like NPR’s Invisibilia are offering adult coloring sheet tie-ins to episode releases. The Mayo Clinic is touting its benefits for those who want to be more mindful.
But, as with other activities aimed at the average adult, this one has ended up with language that is often censored from prime time. Nobody should be surprised—especially after Subversive Cross Stitch—that swearing has become a natural part of adult crafting. There’s even a whole category of sweary coloring books on Amazon, with titles like Release Your Anger and Memos to Shitty People and Calm the F*ck Down—which, oddly enough, seems to be the point of all this. (Wait, let me watch the Mayo Clinic video again.)
I asked Los Angeles Times Book Prize winner, Printz Honor author, and pop-culture expert A. S. King what she thought of this trend. If anyone is tapped into the zeitgeist, it’s Amy. It turns out that while she doesn’t color herself, she has friends who do—friends who have gifted her with some swear-tastic books! The time she spent living in Ireland has made her especially fond of English and Irish curses, several of which she has spotted in their pages. “I was just so thrilled to see Bellend* in there. It’s one of my favorites, and sometimes I use it here and no one knows I’m even swearing.”
If adult coloring is your jam, you’re in luck: No shortage of material exists for you to get your crayolas on! And if you enjoy profanities, you’re doubly lucky. Just remember: the first rule of coloring club is . . . um . . . I guess you can talk about it. Everybody else is.
*Don’t worry, dear reader. I had to use Urban Dictionary myself to figure it out.