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Friday
Jan072011

Talking Pictures

I have an unusual hobby: I collect snapshots of people I don't know.  I started collecting a few years ago — at swap meets, antique shops and the like — but the thing that got me started wasn’t the photos themselves so much as the scribbles I’d sometimes find on the backs. When you’re looking through bins of thousands of random, unsorted photos, every hundredth one or so will have some writing on it. It’s generally just identifying information (“me and Jerry at the Grand Canyon, 1947″), but every once in a while I'll find a something surprising, emotional, candid, hilarious, heartbreaking -- a few words that bring the picture to life in a profound new way, transforming a blurry black-and-white snapshot of people who seem a million miles and a million years away into an intensely personal sliver of experience that anyone can relate to. It becomes something not just to look at, but to listen to.

I began posting some of my favorite finds online in late 2010, and the reaction they got was amazing.  It wasn't long before publishers got interested -- and now, I'm happy to announce, HarperCollins will be releasing <em>Talking Pictures</em> as a book on October 16, 2012. If you've been a fan of the blogs, fear not -- there will be lots of new (actually, very old -- but new-to-you) pictures in it; I've found some of my very favorite images just in the last few weeks.

Praise for Talking Pictures

"I'm absolutely fascinated by Ransom Riggs' ongoing series at mental_floss called Talking Pictures—themed collections of found photographs that happen to have writing on them. Usually, there's just enough written to make each image more powerful, and leave you wanting more." - Boingboing

"Riggs' book is not exclusively devoted to the aesthetics of the snapshot image, but rather touches on the humor, romance, drama, or tragedy of life via the accompanying handwritten text.  These photos reveal something profound about our shared humanity in all its varied forms and are a poignant reminder of why we take pictures.  None of us who love snapshots will ever look at them the same way again." - Robert E. Jackson, whose collection was featured in The Art of the American Snapshot.

Order the Book

It makes me pretty deliriously happy to finally be able to hold these images in my hands, bound in paper between two covers, and I hope they make a few of you happy, too. You can order Talking Pictures from a number of outlets:

Books-a-Million

Amazon.com

Barnesandnoble.com

IndieBound

It's also available in digital form, for the Nook, iPad and Kindle.

As long as you're clicking on links, take a look at this sort-of-book-trailer I made for Talking Pictures:

 

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Reader Comments (45)

Dear Mr. Riggs, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children has caught the attention of Alamosa Books. (www.alamosabooks.com) We are a independent bookstore in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We specialize in children's literature, but have a generous selection of fiction for adults. We were wondering if you would be in the area anytime in the future? We would love to have an event in our store celebrating your books.

Thanks for your time and consideration,

Richard Vargas
Events Coordinator
Alamosa Books

March 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRichard Vargas

Bravo - a thoughtful and compelling subject. The book promises to capture the timeless need for the voice of a life lived.

March 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Levine

This is such a fascinating book. I nominated it as an Indie Next Pick for the ABA and I can't wait to get it into my store and start selling it. Good luck with it!

April 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa Sharp

Just found you following a link in twitter, and absolutelly loved your article "Strange Geographies: Abandoned Belgium, Part I " . Seems to came straight from my dreams (I dreamed about abandoned houses since I was a child).
Can´t wait for part II, and can´t wait to read your book, either (or, better saying, books). I´ve found a lot about your work in internet, and I don´t know how I never heard about you until now. My fault, I know.

I will be following you steps from now on. (Uh, does it sounds creepy?)

April 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNina

Invest in gasoline and earn money, take advantage of that price is rising.

June 13, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterinvertir en gasolina

You are an outstanding trailer maker -- organizing disjointed fragments and patterns into a format easy to digest. Sounds fantastic....

June 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterrandy

Hi,
I love your pictures. It is a very interesting hobby. I hope that one day my pictures will be looked at by someone like you who sees that a picture meens more than what it seems.

July 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

Fascinating!! I can't wait for the book. You are very unique in your view on life, and thank God that comes out in your books, interests, etc. I look forward to your future works!!

July 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrenda

Hello, I just got Miss Peregrine's home for peculiar children today. I can't wait to read it, then I saw the video you posted on you tube about the talking pictures. It took my breath away because I too collect old photos, I never know why I choose the ones I choose, they just speak to me. It makes me itch to get to the local antique malls. I have well over 400 now, and have scanned most of them. I have been posting them on my flickr site on sundays, along with my own photos.
One of my quotes scrawled on the back of a small image of a blurry man on a horse "the days that will never come back". I love that so very much. I can't wait for this next book to be published :D

July 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterlydia

If Ransom Riggs likes new places and unexplored treasures, he might consider a journey to Nebraska and a splash in the ancient, mystical artesian springs of the Ogallala Aquifer. The Aquifer is currently being threatened by a proposal to build a 36 inch pipeline through it's upper reaches--an amputation really. The Ogalllala formation is part of a series of underground aquifers that run from South Dakota to Texas. The Ogallala is covered by Sandhills, an enormous area of open prairie and rolling dunes. Many of its counties are home to more cattle than people. The dunes are young and marching--covering an underground water resource of enormous power and majesty. Arising from the aquifer are streams--The Birdwood, White Tail Creek, The Upper, Middle, and Lower Loup Rivers, and a National Scenic River, The Niobrara. All groundwater streams with hydrographs a straight as a ruler. Places seldom seen but where anything might happen.

July 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Seacrest

Dear Mr. Riggs,
I will be using your video "Talking Pictures," to introduce your book "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" to my Reading class! Thank you for encouraging teens to reflect on history and the impact others make on individual's lives.
Mrs. Lynah

July 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDaphne Lynah

I love the sort-of-book-trailer! I just finished Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and want it to keep going!! please please please write another!
your fan,
Alyssa

July 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlyssa

Your hobby sounds unique and fun. I like to collect old books. The older the better. Can't stand the thought of them rotting away. And I love the feel and smell of the leather covers.

Thank you for sharing the interesting post. :-)
~Sherry

Sherry Soule Official Website

September 14, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersherry soule

Mr. Riggs,

Your exciting novel has newer my faith in modern fiction. I have had nearly one year of reading only non-fiction due to the fact that I was tired of wasting my time on drab "best sellers" on the market.

My parents were antique dealers and I grew up looking at antique photos of people my parents did not know. Postcards with portraits were something my Mother purchased often. The old photos in your novel were a pleasing reminder of hours I spent at antique shops, browsing through items old and unusual.

Congratulations on a job well done. Enjoy collecting and thanks for sharing!

September 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

I can't wait to see this book! Just finished Miss P's home for peculiar children and i am completely fascinated by you and your work! keep 'em coming!

September 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNiki

It looks great!

September 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBadmonkey Botanicals

I'm now in love with this blog. The "unusual hobbies" interest me. I'm gload I am able to go with you on your journeys wheather it be an abandoned vacation or flea market. I'm inspired!

September 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAJ the Muay Thai Gear Girl

Such a great blog.Thanks for allowing us to read this one.I really enjoyed reading this stuff.

September 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRelationship Consultant

This is my hobby also; I'm thrilled to discover I am not alone in this! It is utterly fascinating.

October 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCaroline

Wow, this video is amazing!
I just read your book Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children in German and I love the pictures. I can't believe they're real pictures! Your hobby, collecting pictues of people you don't know is just as peculiar as your book is! When I look at such old pictues I kind of feel like ... I think, respectful, is a good word for it.
I'm looking forward to your next book :)
Lisa

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

Awesome stuff. I have to ask, what is the song playing in the video?

December 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJason T. Murphy

is there a second book coming out about miss peregrine's home for peculiar children.

January 17, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterransom riggs

Just finishing up reading your book "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children". It is amazingly written, addictive, and a "cant stop reading" novel. I am excited to read that Tim Burton is working on making it into a film....and that indeed a second 2 might be forthcoming. Please keep us updated as to the publication of the next book and the potential release of the movie!

Good luck....and keep writing.

February 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavid J. R. Mack

hi, i've read Miss Peregirnes, annd i was literallly amazed. i have not read a book that good in a long time. im thirteen, so i guess that is not saying much, but yeah. im am counting the days down till this book comes out and i am so excited. thank you, you are awesome. :-)

March 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfayth j

I stumbled upon this book on Amazon.com this weekend. Can't wait to see it when it comes out! I love those old photos and could look through them for hours as well. Great video - I'm off to share it on FB!

May 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterchris

im a sucker for a good book i bought miss peregrine's home for peculiar children 3 days ago and already finished it what an imaginative mind the author has i thought it was just amazing and the ending was perfect how i wanted it to end a lot of times books have horrible ends to them n u feel just left wondering but with this i felt as if the story was finished as it should be very good book ! thank you for writing it :)

May 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRansom briggs

Truly inspiring work.

May 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Garrison

Hello! You are brilliant! Yes?
I just found you through "Miss Peregrine's..." book (which I haven't been able to read yet because my son took it before I could start....and he LOVES it!) and I think this new book's, "Talking Pictures", concept is amazing. I have always enjoyed my family's "comments" on their photos... but you just want to know more about these folks! Just what is their story?
I followed your link to the "mental_floss" site and enjoyed your October 13, 2010 - 12:47 PM post. Last photo is my favorite... not only for the idea that she liked the photo enough to give away but to bring attention twice to the distruction of her face. My concern is for the little tike. This poor boy, who is he and why is he on the roof with these two crazy ladies and his scooter? What happened to the kid when the photo was done and he rode off on his scooter.... who knows how many floors up.... yikes.... (sorry the mom in me).
I can't wait to buy your book!
CP

June 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChris Porter

I like ever thing that you write, we have a lot in common for sure, I am going to write an article about you for your-own-fitness.com. I hope you don't mind.

June 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterYofitness

I collect pictures too! i have a hard time finding them though. I simply cannot wait to get this book. I also read miss peregrine, and it is now one of my favorites. I absolutely loved the pictures and the oddity of the book. I cannot wait for a second one. I really hope there are more and more books to come. Thank you for sharing your love of pictures, and your quirky sense of imagination with us. (:

June 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHMS

Hello again. I'm just wondering what Emma from (miss peregrine) looks like, recently. Also it's great to say hi. Your Great.

July 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDion Foster

Hey cant wait for the next Miss P !!! I've got all my friends reading it, I'll get you some notes from them good luck, and thanks for the sorta-kinda- release date

July 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDion Foster

Imagine one of your first experiences with the English language being read to as you follow along your most vivid novel. All kinds of stuff had been done before the reading to make it comprehensible, but it was comprehended by these very lucky ESL students at Lincoln High School in San Francisco. They just loved it! I enjoyed it too, which is good, as I read the whole book aloud twice. Thanks for the fun times we had.

August 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge

I love and admire what you do. I'm just starting to get the found photo bug. I will spend hours seeking out other peoples photos. Thank you for sharing, I now have a much bigger appreciation for the words that help tell the story.

I would like to repost the link to your trailer (I've watched twice now) please send me the direct link to the video via email. I think if I just repost the page people are less apt to watch the video and repost it.

Lastly, is the book out?

Happy hunting!

Stephanie

September 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie

Thanks to Barbara Levine I have discovered your books and blog. When you say you have an unusual hobby of collecting photos of people you don't know I have to laugh, as it seems to me that it is not so strange, given the competition there is when buying vernacular photos on Ebay. Still, my friends and family think it is weird, so I guess it is! I blog about some of my pics. My main blog is in the URL box above. The other is http://mugshotsandmiscellaneous.wordpress.com/ if you have time to have a wee look. I will be checking my post box in anticipation of the arrival of Miss P's and Talking Pictures (I have ordered from the UK and looks like it has a different cover over there. Is that correct?) I look forward to exploring more of what you have here.

October 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine Griffiths

are they real?

November 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeculiar Kid

A haunting tribute to people and a time that has been lost, it is very moving.

November 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLorraine

I am obsessed with Talking Pictures, but one especially, Marion on page 139... Where did you find her? I am so obsessed with her that I have gone searching for an obituary, but there is nothing. Any bread crumbs?

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterApril Woods

dear ms.riggs
i just finished to read your amazing book
i couldn"t leave it from my hands&eyes till i finished it
thanks for you

December 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdor

hey do a estimate when miss peregrine 2 will come out. ps big fan love the book.

January 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRansom Riggs

I thoroughly enjoyed your book. You have inspired me to start looking at old photos and antiquing again.
To explain, after my hubby's untimely death at 48 (stroke) I couldn't do it anymore because to me it made
me think, my photos will be in one of these places and nobody will care what they meant. Thank you
for making people of the past mean something. C

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia S. Skalican

Ive actually been thinking about collecting photographs. I love seeing the faces of people in the past. They all have a story to tell. I wonder how it was when they were alive, and I wonder what they would say to me. I thank you for inspiring me to collect them.

-Brianna

February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBrianna

When is the sequal to Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children coming out? I have to know the date so i can stop hugging ben and jerry.

February 21, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRansom Riggs

Also available as a Kobo ebook...

E.G.

http://www.mystgalaxy.com/ebook/9780062099501

March 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterM. Hart

De belles pérégrinations pour refuser de grandir envers et contre tout...

May 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterK

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