Ulysses Press
Ulysses Press

14 Unusual Coloring Books for Adults

Ulysses Press
Ulysses Press

Like slumber parties, whipped cream, and juice boxes, coloring books aren't just for kids anymore. There's a huge collection of coloring books that appeal to a (slightly) more mature crowd out there, perfect for any coffee table. I colored in a few pages.

1. The 1990s Coloring Book: All That and a Box of Crayons (Psych! Crayons Not Included.)

Ulysses Press

As any nostalgic twentysomething will tell you, the '90s was the best decade ever. Who needs Woodstock or the first moon walk, when the '90s had Pogs and Gameboys? Believe me when I say this coloring book has it all: Legends of the Hidden Temple, X-Files, Tomagatchi, you name it. There's even a draw-your-own Beanie Baby page! (I made mental_floss its own themed bear.)

The coloring book explains that it doesn't come with crayons (with that classic '90s 'tude) so I recommend picking up some purple and teal colors for this one. 

2. Snake Eyes

The coloring book you never knew you needed: Snake Eyes. This bizarre-but-awesome activity book lets you join in on all of Nic Cage's wacky adventures. Budding artists can even help give the actor a new face. My co-workers helpfully gave him a variety of faces so he can chase down Special Agent Archer incognito. 

3. The Punk Rock Fun Time Activity Book

ECW Press

CBGB might be closed, but that doesn't mean you can't keep graffitiing on the bathroom walls (in spirit). The Punk Rock Fun Time Activity Book offers lots of fun with punk bands of the past and present. There's something very satisfying about drawing your own tattoos on Henry Rollins (I opted for a pony). 

4. Color Me Drunk: A Drinking and Drawing Activity Book

This is a great activity book for lushes. The matte brown cover, designed by Danielle Deschenes and Matt Davis, comes with cut out beer goggles to wear while you color. These come in handy for the games and puzzles that are tailored to the user's inebriation. There's even a handy page that lets you keep track of how much you drank by coloring little beer bottles. The only problem is reality setting in when you color the whole page.

5. Indie Rock Coloring Book

Chronicle Books

If you have a music lover in your life, this is the perfect gift. Illustrated by Andy J. Miller, this delightful book features bands like Bon Iver, Broken Social Scene, and The National. All the profits are split between the bands' charities of choice. Rilo Kiley's Pierre de Reeder writes a heartfelt foreward that really captures the charm of the project. 

6. Bun B's Rap Coloring and Activity Book

Harry N. Abrams

When Bun B isn't writing raps on his iPhone, you can find him in this exciting activity book, which has 48 pages of countless rappers and hip-hop references just waiting to be colored in. Some of the guests include Childish Gambino, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and more. You can check out their tumblr here. 

7. Color This Book: New York City

Chronicle Books

If you love Broad City as much as I do, you need this book. It's illustrated by Abbi Jacobson, who actually went to MICA before becoming an actress. Her art school background is showcased in this beautifully drawn book of various New York sights. If the west coast is more your style, you can also check out her San Francisco book. And if that's still not enough for you, check out this one by Mike Perry (the guy who does the cool opening titles).

8. Dinosaurs With Jobs: a coloring book celebrating our old-school coworkers

Dinosaurs are really hard workers! Enjoy hilarious captions as you color in some of the older employees in the workforce. 

9. Coloring for Grown-Ups College Companion


Perfect to bring into boring lectures, this activity book provides the nostalgic joys of childhood mixed with the new joys of binge drinking. Fun puzzles include keg stand connect-the-dot, dorm room design, and quad bingo. One page lets you draw obscene images on a passed out student, so I went with the worst thing I could think of. 

10. Between the Lines: An Expert Level Coloring Book

Have you ever had to set your Sesame Street coloring book aside because it was just too easy? Here's a more challenging book for art majors with some time to kill. To see what some artists did with the pages, check them out here.

11. Color Me Swoon: The Beefcake Activity Book for Good Color-Inners as well as Beginners

Every once in a while, you need to pour yourself a glass of wine and indulge in some good old fashion swooning. This book of dreamy hunks does not discriminate; you can be any skill level to color in all your favorite hearthrobs. 

12. Thrill Murray

Bill Murray lovers (everyone) can rejoice! 23 illustrators were commissioned to create 23 fantastic pages just waiting to be colored. Thrill Murray takes scenes from all your favorite movies, from Groundhog Day to almost every single Wes Anderson movie. 

13. Coloring Book for Lawyers 

This satirical coloring book is great for lawyers with a sense of humor (my dad's reaction was so-so). Follow one lawyer as he takes you through an average day. Make sure your brown and grey crayons are sharpened for this one. 

14. Game of Thrones 

"Dracarys," you murmur as you color in Drogon's flames with your canary yellow crayon. TeamArt's beautifully hand-made Game of Thrones coloring book is just the thing to pass the time before the next season starts. If you're waiting for the next book, you might want to invest in a 120 pack of crayons.

Farrin Abbott, SLAC/Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
An Ancient Book Blasted with High-Powered X-Rays Reveals Text Erased Centuries Ago
Farrin Abbott, SLAC/Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Farrin Abbott, SLAC/Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

A book of 10th-century psalms recovered from St. Catherine’s Monastery on Egypt's Sinai Peninsula is an impressive artifact in itself. But the scientists studying this text at the U.S. Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University were less interested in the surface text than in what was hidden beneath it. As Gizmodo reports, the researchers were able to identify the remains of an ancient Greek medical text on the parchment using high-powered x-rays.

Unlike the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource (SSRL) used by the scientists is a much simpler and more common type of particle accelerator. In the SSRL, electrons accelerate to just below the speed of light while tracing a many-sided polygon. Using magnets to manipulate the electrons' path, the researchers can produce x-ray beams powerful enough to reveal the hidden histories of ancient documents.

Scanning an ancient text.
Mike Toth, R.B. Toth Associates, Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

In the case of the 10th-century psalms, the team discovered that the same pages had held an entirely different text written five centuries earlier. The writing was a transcription of the words of the prominent Greek physician Galen, who lived from 130 CE to around 210 CE. His words were recorded on the pages in the ancient Syriac language by an unknown writer a few hundred years after Galen's death.

Several centuries after those words were transcribed, the ink was scraped off by someone else to make room for the psalms. The original text is no longer visible to the naked eye, but by blasting the parchment with x-rays, the scientists can see where the older writing had once marked the page. You can see it below—it's the writing in green.

X-ray scan of ancient text.
University of Manchester, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Now that the researchers know the hidden text is there, their next step will be uncovering as many words as possible. They plan to do this by scanning the book in its entirety, a process that will take 10 hours for each of the 26 pages. Once they've been scanned and studied, the digital files will be shared online.

Particle accelerators are just one tool scientists use to decipher messages that were erased centuries ago. Recently, conservationists at the Library of Congress used multispectral imaging, a method that bounces different wavelengths of light off a page, to reveal the pigments of an old Alexander Hamilton letter someone had scrubbed out.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Lucy Quintanilla
10 Facts about John Knowles's A Separate Peace
Lucy Quintanilla
Lucy Quintanilla

John Knowles’s 1959 novel about a conflicted prep school friendship has become a coming-of-age classic.


Like his protagonists Gene and Finny, who are students at the elite Devon School during World War II, Knowles attended the exclusive Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire in the early 1940s. He then served in the military for a short time before graduating from Yale in 1949. The West Virginian Knowles later wrote that despite the culture clash (and the cold) he fell in love with the school. "The great trees, the thick clinging ivy, the expanses of playing fields, the winding black-water river, the pure air all began to sort of intoxicate me. Classroom windows were open; the aroma of flowers and shrubbery floated in," he wrote. "The summer of 1943 at Exeter was as happy a time as I ever had in my life … Yale was a distinct letdown afterward."


After graduating from Yale, Knowles worked as a drama critic at the Hartford (Conn.) Courant and as a freelance writer. One of his first published short stories, “Phineas,” appeared in Cosmopolitan in 1956 and contained the narrative seeds of A Separate Peace.


In several key scenes in A Separate Peace, Gene and Finny dare each other to jump off the overhanging limb of a huge tree into the river below. In the beginning of the novel, naturally adventurous Finny takes a flying leap off the branch. Gene, who is more reserved, follows his friend's lead, which cements their friendship. Later, Gene loses his balance while standing on the limb, and Finny catches him. Like his characters, Knowles admitted to being in a secret society with an initiation requirement that involved jumping from “the branch of a very high tree” into a river. Knowles did suffer his own fall, which injured his foot and compelled him to use crutches for some time.


His name was David Hackett, and Knowles met him during a six-week summer session at Exeter in 1943. Hackett attended Milton Academy in Massachusetts during the regular school year. There, he was a standout athlete on the hockey, football, and baseball teams. He also quickly befriended the future U.S. attorney general, Robert F. Kennedy, and later served under him in the Justice Department.


At the novel's climax, Gene and Finny decide to jump off the tree branch together. Gene shakes the branch, causing Finny to plunge and break his leg. Though readers have debated Gene's intentions since the book was published, Knowles never said whether Gene meant to cause Finny's fall. Upon the author's death in 2001, his brother-in-law Bob Maxwell said, "John used to say he would never answer that question."


The protagonist in Ernest Hemingway’s 1929 novel A Farewell to Arms, an American soldier fighting in Italy during World War I, grows disillusioned after a disastrous battle and deserts the army. “I had made a separate peace,” he declares. Hemingway also uses the line in his 1925 short story collection In Our Time, with the character Nick saying it to a dying soldier. Knowles may have chosen the title to illustrate the parallel of the collective peace after war and the personal, subjective peace between individuals. In this case, Gene reaches a state of peace after he and Finny reconcile following the accident.


Eleven publishers turned down A Separate Peace. The book first appeared in print in 1959 thanks to the London publisher Secker and Warburg, while the initial U.S. publication took place on leap year day—February 29, 1960. Though the book received mostly positive reviews, it wasn’t an immediate bestseller. But as more and more English teachers discovered A Separate Peace, they brought it into their classrooms, and the book gained a colossal momentum. Knowles’s first published novel would prove by far his most successful one, ultimately selling more than 8 million copies.


Knowles once wrote about serving as the anchor man in a swimming relay race while at Exeter, beating the school’s rival, Phillips Andover Academy. He became “an athletic mini-hero for about 15 minutes.” In A Separate Peace, Finny breaks Devon’s 100-yard freestyle swimming record—but the winning time was unofficial, as Gene, who served as timekeeper, was the sole witness.


Though there was no description of any sexual encounter in the novel, some readers have contended that the book has a gay undercurrent. A handful of critics have objected to this perceived dynamic, including parents in a central New York school district who, in 1980, denounced A Separate Peace as a “filthy, trashy sex novel” that encouraged homosexuality. For what it’s worth, Knowles said, “If there had been homoeroticism between Phineas and Gene, I would have put it in the book, I assure you. It simply wasn't there.”


Fred Segal wrote the screenplay of A Separate Peace; Knowles read through the script and made suggestions for improving it. Directed by Larry Peerce with a largely amateur cast, the movie came out in 1972 to so-so reviews. Knowles was proud of the fact that the production was able to shoot on location at Phillips Exeter Academy, the inspiration for the fictional Devon School.


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