Coloring books for adults

- More than 20 years ago, Bernyce and Cynthia started a friendship. In September, they started coloring.

"The first time I came here, I was thinking: What am I doing here?" Bernyce said.

"We walked out and we were so tranquil," Cynthia said. "It was wonderful."

Several of the women in the afternoon coloring session at the Kips Bay branch of the New York Public Library Tuesday attended that very first coloring class.

"We looked at each other and said: Did you ever hear of an hour going so fast?" Bernyce recalled.

"[Adult coloring classes] are becoming more and more popular," senior librarian Elissa Kling said. "I know within the New York Public Library several of our branches do have adult coloring classes and they are growing every month."

Last year, Kling notices the members of her branch gravitated toward craftier programs. She'd read about the growing popularity of adult coloring books and decided to see how her charges liked huddling over the outline of an image and aiming a pointed object at its insides.

"I'm not a very good colorer," Kling said. "I color outside the lines a lot."

For those of us who distracted easily as children, who struggled to color within the lines, whose parents only begrudgingly hung our scribbled masterpieces on the family fridge, returning to this activity as an adult -- apparently -- can unlock surprising benefits."

"We understand color more," Bernyce said. "We understand blending. I try to blend. A little kid will just take a crayon and color."

A little kid might also not appreciate the change in pace of losing herself in the coloring like an adult dealing with all the stresses and responsibilities of adult life might.

The Kips Bay class has yet to attract a male regular but hosts women from a wide range of age groups, many of whom require multiple sessions to finish coloring a single page but only one to gain something from their hour spent trying to keep a box full of color within the lines.

"When my wise-guy son comes to visit," Bernyce said, "I'll take [one of my completed pages] and say: Hey, look what your mother does in her free time?"

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