(RNS) It is hard to walk into a grocery store, drugstore, gas station or anywhere else without coming across a display of adult coloring books. The trend started a couple of years ago with Johanna Basford’s uber-popular volumes of pretty flowers and frolicking sea life.
The trend has since expanded — “niched out,” in publishing-speak — to include all manner of oddities. There are now coloring books dedicated to partying (“Color Me Drunk: A Drinking and Drawing Activity Book“), and even movie stars (“Colour Me Good, Benedict Cumberbatch!“).
Fear not for the sake of humanity. The niche-ing out has extended to religion, moving beyond general Christian coloring books into more, specific, even minority religions. While their religious roots may be different, the intention behind these coloring books is similar: to provide a tool for meditation and prayer and a means for exploring one’s faith and spirituality.
So with half a summer left to relax and explore, here are new adult coloring books for the more faithfully minded.
This is the category with the greatest number of titles, as Christian publishing houses were the quickest to spin off the adult coloring book craze.
The trend here is to base an illustration on a Bible verse. Margaret Feinberg’s “Live” series is among the most popular. Her latest,”Live Fearless: Craft God’s Word Into Your Heart Through Creative Expression” (Bethany House, $12.99), offers flowers, leaves, animals and scenery drawn in and around Bible verses. Facing pages are lined to jot down thoughts, feelings and other meditations on the text.
Jacqui Grace’s “Images of Grace: An Inspirational Coloring Book” (Bethany House, $14.99) is also based on Bible verses, but it’s a bit more of a traditional coloring book with no spots for journaling.
Shannon Roberts’ take on Bible verses emphasizes black backgrounds in “Chalk it up to Grace” (Paige Tate & Co., $12.99) and gives the finished pages a stained-glass feel.
One of the most-loved Christian hymns gets the coloring book treatment in the “Amazing Grace” coloring book (Zondervan, $12.99). The book goes phrase-by-phrase through the 18th-century lyrics by John Newton, printed on the left, as a source for illustrations, printed on the right. There promises to be a series of coloring books based on old-time hymns, including the just-released “All Creatures of Our God and King” (Zondervan, $12.99).
Most Catholic colorers would be perfectly at home in the more general Christian coloring books, but for those who want to color their way into specifically Catholic practices and beliefs there is “The Mysteries of the Rosary: An Adult Coloring Book” by Daniel Mitsui (Ave Maria Press, $9.95), which has a medieval manuscript look to its pages.
Muslim colorers are in a bit of a pickle — Islam forbids the making of icons (think of the cartoon Muhammad controversy). But artists are working within this framework by doing what Islamic artists have done for centuries — drawing Muslim geometric motifs and calligraphy. Until recently, grown-up Muslim colorers had to rely on single-page downloads or self-published bundles of faith-based illustrations. Now there is “The Caliphates: A Colorful Journey Back to the Golden Age of Islam” by Islamic artist Zohayma Montaner (U.S. distributor, With a Spin, $34.99).
There is also “The Islamic, Adult Coloring Book” by Theresa Corbin (Create Space Independent Publishing Platform, $10), which is aimed at the non-Muslim who wants to learn more about this faith.
Jewish adult coloring books are just beginning to take off, which is a bit surprising as there are numerous Jewish artists and illustrators who create lavishly illustrated ketubahs — a Jewish marriage contract — and other Judaica. Artist Adam Rhine has just produced “Hebrew Illuminations: A Coloring Journey Through the Jewish Holy Days” (Amber Lotus Publishing, $12.99). Rhine’s illustrations for coloring do not include human figures and resemble a cross between medieval illuminated manuscripts and Eastern mandalas.
“Buddhist Art Coloring Book 2” by Robert Beer offers 50 highly detailed images of gods, goddesses, Buddhas and bodhisattvas — enlightened beings — from Tibetan Buddhism. Each subject gets a single page facing a full page of small, colorable motifs drawn from Tibetan textiles and art. A bonus section in the back of the book offers biographies of each figure. If the human figure doesn’t appeal, there are also multiple mandala coloring books with designs drawn from both the Buddhist and Hindu traditions. “Mindful Mandalas: A Mandala Coloring Book” (Papeterie Bleu, $5.99) has many with a Hindu feel.
It’s hard to be scared of a witch who colors. For color-conscious Wiccans, as contemporary practitioners of witchcraft call themselves, and other neo-pagans, there is “Llewellyn’s Witch’s Coloring Book” (Llewellyn Worldwide, $12.99), which collects the illustrations of six artists. No “eye of newt and toe of frog” a la “Macbeth” here; this is more white magic with herbs, flowers and celestial figures for coloring.