Best Adult Coloring Books: Top 5 Titles Most Recommended By Experts

Who said coloring is just for kids? Detaching from our screens and taking a break from the many stresses of life might be just what the doctor ordered. Coloring books for adults have gained immense popularity over the last decade, inspiring all of us to unleash our inner child and our most creative self. There are tons of brands and variations on the market, but finding the best adult coloring books can help you get scribbling between those beautiful, intricate lines in no time at all.

Many studies have proven the positive effects embracing your artistic side. While art is no replacement for therapy if you are feeling in need of emotional support, recent research shows that modern fill-in-the-lines literature may be good at resolving short-term depression and anxiety. For the study, researchers at Drexel University recruited nearly 30 adult Pennsylvanians to participate in either a 40-minute coloring or art therapy session, hoping to measure the efficacy of each modality at treating mood disorders. While therapy is the preferred option for those seeking medical help, participants in both groups benefited similarly in terms of self-reported stress levels (a 10 and 14 percent reduction, in the coloring and art therapy groups, respectively) and negative mental states (a 7 and 6 percent reduction, respectively).

Another study out of the National Library of Medicine investigated the potential effect of coloring books on anxiety through a controlled trial of adult patients in the emergency department (ED). The study finds that among ED patients, exposure to adult coloring books resulted in lower self-reported levels of anxiety at two hours compared to placebo.

However, you surely don’t need to be in mental distress to grab a coloring book. Coloring is a great way to spend an hour or two in a relaxed state of mind. That’s why StudyFinds sought out the best adult coloring books so you can take a much-needed break from the daily grind. For our findings, we visited 10 of the leading expert websites to see which adult coloring books were most frequently listed. Our list is ranked based on the most-recommended coloring books for adults across these sites.

Adult coloring book
Adult coloring book (Photo by Customerbox on Unsplash)

The List: Best Adult Coloring Books, According to Experts

1. Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book

The Secret Garden adult coloring book knocks it out of the park with its intricate images, thick paper, and interactive options available through digital platforms like YouTube. “Most coloring books are exclusively filled with coloring pages, but this one also includes mazes, challenges, and space to make your own designs. Secret Garden is a good option for people who manage stress by completing detailed projects, and the pages are great for all levels of drawers. In addition to the book, you can also buy postcards, notecards, and journals with the same designs,” writes Very Mind Well.

adult coloring book with colored pages
Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book

The affordable coloring book has a 4.7 rating from more than 14,000 online reviews. “There are plenty of publishers who have tried to emulate what this book offers, (and I’ve been stupid enough to try others), and trust me, NO other book compares to Johanna Basford’s coloring books,” New York Magazine writes. “‘I would say this is by far the highest quality coloring book I have,’ one reviewer writes, describing the paper as ‘amazing’ It’s heavy weight and holds markers and colored pencil well.”

According to Artlex, “One of many gorgeous and intricate books available from Johanna Basford, this complete book is meditative and relaxing for older artists. Creating interesting art of animals, flowers, and paisley designs bring artists into another world of imagination and stress relief.”

2. Calm the F*ck Down

Looking for a side of humor with your stress relief? Calm the F*ck Down is a great option if you want to get creative without taking yourself too seriously. “Full of cheeky humor, sarcastic one-liners, and therapeutic swear words, this coloring book by Sasha O’Hara is specifically crafted for adults. Moderately complicated designs are paired with positive affirmations such as ‘dance like no one attractive is watching,’ to make coloring both stress-relieving and fun,” says Very Well Mind.

 white book cover with patterned border
Calm the F*ck Down Coloring Book

If you couldn’t tell from the title, this coloring book is ideal for adults only and could be good for anger relief as well. “People with a sense of humor will appreciate the curse words and sarcastic sayings in this wacky coloring book. Each thick page has one-sided printing to allow coloring without worrying about bleed-through,” adds Artlex. “While most coloring books have clean content, this book boasts humorous curses and fun images of fairies, paisley designs, and animals.”

3. Cindy Elsharouni Stress Relieving Designs 

If you’re looking for endless picture-perfect pages of soothing wildlife and nature, the bestselling Stress Relieving Designs coloring book is perfect for you. “Images include intricate designs of animal and plant life, such as owls, a wolf, a raccoon, horses, and flowers. There are also paisleys, and mandalas included to allow hours of stress relief while coloring each printed page. Relax and relieve stress with over 64 different images in this book,” says Artlex.

black background yellow border coloring book
Cindy Elsharouni Stress Relieving Designs

Reviewers also love that this coloring book’s pages are one-sided, eliminating the risk of bleed-through from pencils or markers. The book also comes at a super reasonable price-point, and with the varied images it’s sure to have something for just about everyone.

4. Art Deco Fashions Coloring Book

Art comes in all shapes, forms and sizes, which is why coloring books aren’t boxed into solely animals or nature anymore, they can be fashion-forward too! “[It’s] a great adult coloring book, especially interesting as a former costume curator. The fashion plates are wonderful,” New York Magazine reads. “The person who drew these did a nice job researching the fashions of each era.” 

white background book with illustrations of people
Art Deco Fashions Coloring Book

At just $5 (at the time we price-checked), this Art Deco book is also a great budget find that won’t break the bank“Pages are perforated and printed on one side only for easy removal and display. Specially designed for experienced colorists, Art Deco Fashions offers an escape to a world of inspiration and artistic fulfillment,” adds Good Reads.

5. 125 Mandalas by Coloring Book Cafe

The 125 Mandalas adult coloring book is all about details, details, details and it’s the perfect choice for those looking for a bit of concentration and challenge while coloring. “Mandalas are geometric patterns that enhance meditation and mindfulness practices. The ones featured in this coloring book draw from multiple cultures and encourage a calm mind and peaceful mood,” says Very Well Mind. “Each mandala is printed on single-sided paper and they range from simple to expertly detailed and intricate. While each one will take some time to color, the completed project is sure to be beautiful enough to display.”

back book cover with colorful mandalas
125 Mandalas by Coloring Book Cafe

This book is also well-loved as there are a variety of coloring options, enabling you to use whatever pencils, crayons or markers you have on hand. “With everything from stained-glass mandalas to classic mandalas to gemstone mandalas, there’s something for everyone in this captivating coloring book,” Mind Body Green writes.

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

About the Author

Meaghan Babaker

Meaghan Babaker is a journalist and freelance writer previously based out of New York City while working for CBS New York, CBS Local and MSNBC. After moving to Geneva, Switzerland in 2016, she went on to write for Digital Luxury Group, The Travel Corporation and other international publications before joining the editorial team at StudyFinds.

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