I bet you’ll never guess what books were topping Amazon’s best-seller list this past spring. I know – you’re going to throw out John Grisham or Nora Roberts or Danielle Steele (I’m talking spring so Harper Lee doesn’t make the list yet) – but you’d be wrong.

Adults were buying in great numbers – drum roll please - two coloring books. Yes, you read that correctly.

Now I totally get it. When I went to visit my grandchildren recently my oldest granddaughter and I spent some quality time coloring side by side while discussing which color to use and the fact that she was able to color within the lines better than I was! And I have fond memories of sitting at the back of the room in my property law class, coloring book on my lap, Crayola package secreted within my backpack. It made the mind-numbing calculations of inheritance and property rights easier to bear (Although I won’t share my grade on that exam!).

The subtitle to these two coloring books is “Color your way to calm” suggests that there are psychological benefits to coloring. And I think they’re right. Coloring takes you out of yourself just enough that we stop our obsessive agonizing but not too much that we are unable to pay attention to what’s around us. It’s also easier on the wallet than shopping and travel and other activities that provide the same benefit.

It’s not so much an escape as it is a settling. It allows our minds to stop wandering. It demands some attention, some thought and even a little bit of creativity, but actually frees us up to focus on the conversation or project or issue at hand.

I think it is also calming because it evokes positive childhood memories – of a carefree freedom, of security, of love.

I know it’s only coloring books and I don’t want to get carried away or wax too enthusiastic (although I did put the books in my Amazon cart!) but I think it’s important to use any simple tools at hand that can relieve stress and improve concentration.

The ideal is of course to gain calm by deepening our trust in the Almighty. I certainly let out my breath when I say to God, “This is in Your hands not mine. I am relieving myself of the responsibility to resolve this issue and handing it over to You.” Whew! That definitely works.

But life is crazy and tumultuous and overwhelming. And sometimes we need a little help getting where we want to go.

Unfortunately some people turn to addictions to ease their anxiety – gambling, alcohol, drugs. The Jewish people turns to the Almighty (at least in theory!). But sometimes we get a little lost on the way or a little caught up in the web of our own thoughts and worries. For those occasions, there is always shoe shopping but I think my husband would definitely prefer that I color!

I’m not sure I need those special adult coloring books however – although it is definitely a sizable challenge to stay in the lines on those intricate and detailed pictures of New York and Paris. I can be happy with a $1.99 purchase of a Disney-themed coloring book and one of those boxes with 64 different colors.