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University of Chicago Press. 2017. 96pp.

I remember spending many evenings and weekends as a child at my little desk at home with my coloring books and sixty-four-count box of crayons.

With as much concentration as a six-year-old could muster, I meticulously strived to color inside the lines. To stretch my creativity, I also applied the side of my crayon, rather than the tip, so that colors would appear in shaded hues. Those were good times.

Coloring books are no longer child's play. In the past few years, adult coloring books have surfaced on the commercial market, giving grownups the same calming benefits that coloring brings to children.

For one particular group of adults--university professors, academics, scholars--a coloring book has emerged. Titled Doodling for Academics, with text by novelist and Phi Kappa Phi 2018 Convention speaker Julie Schumacher and illustrations by Lauren Nassef, this coloring book published in 2017 by the University of Chicago Press is designed to offer humor and activities for individuals who need entertaining relief from academia.

The academic world owns a lifestyle that others might not understand. Those who never have worked in a college or university cloud their thinking that professors have summers off, only work a few hours in the classroom each week, and sip on teas and iced coffees every afternoon while reading books and engaging in deep, meaningful conversations.

In reality, the university life for any scholar is experienced in the trenches--a heavy teaching load with massive learning outcomes to measure, research and scholarly expectations, and service commitments and demands all rolled into one big, messy, misshaped ball that is difficulr to roll.

Many university faculty love their jobs. They truly do, but they need an outlet to channel frustrations that come with the territory. For university professors, adult coloring books could provide an escape. Through forty pages of original line drawings and more pages devoted to puzzles and activities--from coloring to paper dolls to mad libs--Doodling for Academics depicts a typical, yet sometimes bizarre, day on campus.

For instance, one coloring page, "Financial Priorities, Part One," bitingly pits a dilapidated humanities building against a three-story, shining science lab. On the second page, the scholar can color in the new football stadium.

Another page gives an inside look at the complex thoughts ongoing in a student's brain--love, drinking, and social media raking a front-row seat, while assignments dwell in the back of the mind. To be fair, the next page funnily illustrates the content firing in a faculty member's brain--a dreaded department chair meeting and dreams of Netflix binging occupying the front, while the 3 p.m. lecture lurks in the rear.

This quirky book provides a fun diversion for academics. As a tenure-track university faculty member, I know up-close and personally that the academic lifestyle has its ups and downs. Although I run almost daily, swim weekly, and enjoy photography as a hobby to manage my stress and renew my spirits, this coloring and activity book allowed me to laugh more than usual and relive one of my favorite childhood activities.

While colleagues also would embrace the publication's novel appeal, it's best to color the pages and do the activities in the comfort of your home or office--not during long deparrment meetings where your chair might raise an eyebrow.


MELONY SHEMBERGER, ED.D, (Tennessee State University) is an assistant professor of journalism and mass communications at Murray State University. She is a former public relations practitioner and radio and newspaper journalist who specialized in education, court, and business news reporting. She is a 2014 Donald Reynolds Business Journalism Professors Fellow and a 2017 Scripps Howard Academic Leadership Academy Fellow. She is a member of the board of Phi Kappa Phi and serves as chair of the Phi Kappa Phi forum Advisory Council. In the chapter at Murray State University, she is vice president and has been secretary. Email her at
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Title Annotation:BOOK REVIEW
Author:Shemberger, Melony
Publication:Phi Kappa Phi Forum
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 22, 2017
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