How Dumb Are Americans? Coloring Books for Adults on Best Seller Lists

It’s been painfully obvious for years that common sense and intelligence are vanishing commodities.

Just go out in any public area and take note of the number of people plugged into their electronic gadgets, completely disconnected from the world around them. Go anyplace where groups of people are conversing and listen to the coarse language and locker-room talk.

Watch cable, listen to popular music, browse trendy galleries and cringe at what passes for culture these days. Peruse websites like Media Matters, the Daily Kos and Huffington Post and marvel at how low the national conversation can go.

(I know, glass houses, etc. At least I reserve my cussing for special occasions.)

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But it’s a lingering question, just how dumb are we getting?

Dumb enough, apparently, that some of the hottest selling books today are coloring books … for adults.

No, not that kind of “adult.” But actual coloring books full of flowers, cities, pretty pictures and the like intended to make adults spend hours filling in the shapes with colored pens, pencils or even crayons.

A check of Amazon’s Top 20 best sellers this week showed as many as eight adult coloring books.

Dover Publications has sold more than 3 million, and Quarto Publishing is planning to print 1.3 million copies of its lineup of coloring books this year. They have titles like “Creative Cats” and “Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns.”

People who like the books often say they are very relaxing and help relieve the stress of modern life, not unlike people who enjoy doing sudoku or crossword puzzles.

But, coloring books?

Hemingway this is not.

Maybe we’re just going into a second childhood.

A study released earlier this year found a 10 percent decline just since 2010 in young people reading for pleasure. That follows a decades-long trend of declining readership across the board for Americans.

It used to be a joke to say that somebody only read books with pictures in them.

Now, it seems Americans are increasingly only willing to read picture books.

Ted Cruz won his fight this week with the New York Times, which had banned his book from its best seller lists because that’s what the NYT does to people it doesn’t like.

If he wants to remain on the best seller list, his next edition should include lots of pictures. And a free box of crayons wouldn’t hurt.

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