What We Do

We organise and run over 1200 shared reading and creative writing sessions each year, for a diverse range of community and public participants across Scotland.  During our relaxed and informal shared reading sessions, part of a book and poem are read aloud, with an Open Book Lead Reader on hand to help guide the discussion. We also run regular creative writing sessions, using the material the group is reading as inspiration to create new writing.

Every year, we arrange and fund visits by our groups to book festivals and other literary events across Scotland, including Edinburgh International Book Festival, Wigtown Book Festival, Paisley Book Festival, Granite Noir, StAnza, Ullapool Book Festival, and St Magnus Festival. Open Book also regularly offers additional author visits and opportunities to participate in special projects and performances. 

Listen to Co-Founder Marjorie talk with Richard Holloway about what we do at Open Book.

The Team

Marjorie Lotfi

Development Director and Founder

Marjorie was born in New Orleans, spent her childhood in Tehran, and lived in New York before moving to the UK in 1999. A former corporate lawyer in New York and London, Marjorie is now a poet, the Development Director for Open Book and the Deputy Chair of StAnza, Scotland’s international poetry festival. Her poems have won prizes, been widely published in the UK and USA, and performed on BBC Radio 4.  Marjorie’s a keen runner and wild swimmer, and currently on her bedside table are Summerwater by Sarah Moss, Antlers of Water (ed. Kathleen Jamie) and Claudia Rankine’s Just Us.

Claire Urquhart

Director and Founder

Claire studied law in Edinburgh. After a brief spell working in London she settled back in Edinburgh where she lives with her husband, three kids and resolutely no pets. Trying to dispel the theory that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, Claire is attempting to learn the flute and enjoys (occasionally) dusting off her hockey stick for a game. Claire is also a Trustee of the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Currently on her bedside table are The Art of the Glimpse, edited by Sinead Gleeson (which may take some time), and Scabby Queen by Kirstin Innes.

Jess Orr

Operations Manager

Jess is Operations Manager at Open Book, supporting the daily running of all our groups as well as organising annual visits for group members to literary events and festivals across Scotland. She also runs three groups herself at the Grassmarket Community Project, WHALE Arts and in Perth. Outside of Open Book, Jess is Co-Producer of Paisley Book Festival.  

Miriam Huxley

Admin support/volunteer co-ordinator

Miriam grew up in British Columbia and moved to Edinburgh in 2013 to study a Master’s in Creative Writing. In addition to her Admin/Volunteer Coordinator role at the Open Book office, she’s working on a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh. When she isn’t reading and writing, her other research concerns finding the best vegan cake in the city and drinking a lot of oat milk lattes.

What You Said

“The whole [visit to the Edinburgh Book Festival] day was quite delightful. It was pretty near perfect.”

Book Festival Visits

“Feel privileged to have visited with the Glasgow Women’s Library group and be guided throughout, and looked after by volunteers. Thank you Open Book for a fab times.”

Book Festival Visits

“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for having us – truly wonderful day!”

Book Festival Visits

“Very grateful to my companions today and for Open Book for arranging.”

Book Festival Visits

“Just to say thank you for a day to treasure.”

Book Festival Visits

“I am increasingly disabled and need to have a purpose to make me get out; the hour I spend with Open Book is rewarding and restorative.”

Weekly Groups

“Oasis in the day for story and poetry and reflection.”

Weekly Groups

“I just want more of this.”

Weekly Groups

“The Open Book reading group is a fantastic way to overcome social isolation and surround yourself with many beautiful words.”

Weekly Groups

“Now I can’t imagine my life without it.”

Weekly Groups

“I participate in Open Book as someone with considerable and worsening mobility problems….. I can only attend with substantial support from the charity and its leaders…..It’s good if someone keeps and eye out for me….for an hour or so, I am both soothed and stimulated by reading and good discussion, and the gap between me and others disappears… I believe it is a significant part of my sense of well-being and I am grateful for all it offers.”

Weekly Groups

Our Partners

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