What We Do

We organise and run weekly shared reading sessions for a diverse range of community and public participants across Scotland. Part of a book and a poem are read aloud during these relaxed and informal sessions, with an Open Book Lead Reader on hand to help guide the discussion. We regularly run creative writing sessions for our readers, using the material the group is reading as inspiration to create new writing. 

We also arrange and fund visits by these groups to book festivals and other literary events. In 2020 we plan that Open Book Readers will be at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August, the Wigtown Book Festival, Paisley Book Festival, Granite Noir, StAnza, Ullapool Book Festival, Coastword and St Magnus Festival. These visits link the material we’re reading in the sessions to the events we attend. Since 2015 Open Book has also presented three shared reading sessions for the public at the Edinburgh International Book Festival as a part of their workshop programme.

In addition to the weekly groups and annual visits to book festivals, Open Book offers other regular opportunities to our readers. Open Book group members attend additional author visits, plays at the Lyceum Theatre, participate in the Luminate Festival, creative writing workshops during Book Week Scotland and host World Book Night events (often organised and executed entirely by the members of one of our community groups). As Open Book grows, these additional opportunities form an increasingly large part of our annual programme.

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

The Team

Marjorie Lotfi Gill

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 Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Wigtown Book 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 beside table are A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson, Swimming with Seals by Victoria Whitworth and Jenny Offill’s Weather.

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 Jemma Neville’s Constitution Street, and A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson.

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 Groups

Open Book’s current groups across Scotland:

Public Groups

BAME Group (at the National Library of Scotland), Edinburgh
Dower House, Corstorphine, Edinburgh
Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
Open Door Café, Morningside, Edinburgh
Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (limited places available)
Stills Gallery, Edinburgh
The Stove, Dumfries

Multicultural Groups

Maryhill Integration Network, Glasgow
Shakti Women’s Aid, Edinburgh
The Welcoming, Edinburgh
The Welcoming Syrian Women, Edinburgh


HMP Addiewell
HMP Barlinnie
HMP Dumfries
HMP Glenochil
HMP Greenock
HMP Kilmarnock
HMP Low Moss
HMP Shotts


Aberdeen Central Library
Ballater Library
Blackness Community Library, Dundee
Corstorphine Library, Edinburgh
Craigmillar Library, Edinburgh
Douglas Community Library, Dundee
Duloch Library, Dunfermline
Eyemouth Library
Glasgow Women’s Library
Kirkwall Library
Lerwick Library
McDonald Road Library, Edinburgh
National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh
Paisley Library
Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh
Stranraer Library
Ullapool Library

Health Related Groups

Astley Ainslie Head Injury Rehabilitation Unit, Edinburgh
Eric Liddell Centre, Edinburgh
Leith Community Treatment Centre, Edinburgh
Maggie’s Centre, Edinburgh
St Andrew’s Hospice, Airdrie

Community Groups

Bethany Christian Trust,  Edinburgh
Brora Learning Zone
Grassmarket Community Project, Edinburgh
Inverness Women’s Aid
Lothlorien Therapeutic Community, Dumfries and Galloway
Perth Readers/Perth Parent and Child Readers
Social Bite Edinburgh
Social Bite Glasgow
WHALE Arts, Wester Hailes), Edinburgh

Sheltered Housing/Care Homes

Briery Park, Thornhill
Croft na Righ, Edinburgh
Daar Lodge, Kirkcudbright
Dryfemount, Lockerbie
Nigel Henderson Court, Sanquhar

Associated Groups

Deaf Action Scotland, Edinburgh
Rowan Alba, Edinburgh
Lorne Primary School, Edinburgh
St Columba’s Tuesday Lunch Club, Edinburgh

Get Involved

To find out more about our work, get more information about our sessions or volunteer please use the form below.

Open Book runs public drop-in sessions from September to June each year at the following locations and times. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Open Book groups have been taking place online as part of our Unbound programme. Find out more here.

Shared Reading + Creative Writing
Public Groups

Aberdeen Central Library (ESOL Group) – last Wednesday of the month 10.30 -12.30pm

Blackness Community Library, Dundee – last Thursday of the month 10.30 – 12.30pm

Brora Learning Zone Monday evenings 6-8pm – dates variable – Check Group Calendar

Douglas Community Library, Dundee – last Wednesday of the month 10 – 12pm

Duloch Library, Dunfermline – last Thursday of the month 10.30am – 12.30pm 

Eyemouth Library – third Wednesday of the month 2.30 – 4.30pm

Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh – first Wednesday of the month, 10.30 – 12.30pm

Glasgow Women’s Library – first Tuesday of the month, 10.30 – 12.30pm

Kirkwall Library, Orkney – last Monday of the month 2.00 – 4.00 pm

Lerwick Library, Shetland – next group 8 April then the last Monday of the month 7.00 – 9.00 pm

National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh– third Wednesday of the month, 10.30 – 12.30pm

National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh – first Saturday of the month 10 – 12pm (BAME participants only)

Paisley Library, Paisley – last Tues of the month 11 – 1pm (except June – check events calendar)

Letham Community Centre, Perth – meets once a month on a Thursday from 10 – 12pm. Please email miriam@openbookreading.com to confirm meeting dates or check the Group Session calendar

Stills Gallery, Edinburgh – last Wednesday of the month, 10.30 – 12.30 pm

Stranraer Library – last Friday of the month, 2 – 4pm

Ullapool Library – every third Tuesday 2 – 4pm

View our Group Calendar

Shared Reading Public Groups
(No need to book just go along)

Ballater Library – second Saturday of the month 2 – 3pm (Scots group)

Corstorphine Library , Edinburgh–  last Saturday of the month 3 – 4pm

Craigmillar Library, Edinburgh – Tuesdays 11 – 12pm

Dower House, Corstorphine , Edinburgh – Wednesday 10.30- 12pm (fortnightly – check Group Calendar for details )

McDonald Road Library, Edinburgh – Thursdays 2 – 3pm

National Library of Scotland – every Tuesday (ask at the desk), 10.30 – 11.30am

Open Door Café, Morningside, Edinburgh – Mondays 2 – 3pm

Letham Community Centre, Perth – Thursdays 10 – 12pm, during term time.

Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh – every Thursday in the Botanic Cottage, 10.30 -12pm (limited places available)

Scottish Poetry Library – Wednesdays 1 – 2pm, and first Saturday of the month, 11 -12pm

The Stove, Dumfries – first Monday of the month, 5.30 – 6.30pm

Contact us to find out more about our sessions, volunteer or get more information.

Contact Us

Literary Events

Granite Noir (February)

Granite Noir is an Aberdeen-based festival inspired by the incredible popularity of crime fiction in all its forms, by the fantastic contribution that Scottish writers make and by our love affair with Nordic Noir. In 2020, our Aberdeen group is off to enjoy An Evening with Sara Paretsky. 


Paisley Book Festival (February)

Paisley’s inaugural Book Festival takes inspiration from the 200th anniversary of the Paisley Radicals, reflecting their spirit with a programme of grassroots activism, new ideas and political conversation. In 2020, our Paisley group is spending it in the company of the inimitable Janice Galloway, as well as running their own relaxed open mic night. 


StAnza International Poetry Festival (March)

StAnza is a haven for poetry lovers everywhere, brimming with readings, exhibitions and installations from some of the most exciting poets writing today. Set in the stunning coastal Fife town of St Andrews, our Dundee groups are looking forward to a day trip full of inspirational verses.  


Ullapool Book Festival (May)

Ullapool Book Festival has been going since May 2005, founded by a group of literary enthusiasts and including work written in Gaelic and Scots. Taking place over a weekend, this festival showcases the importance of literature in Highland culture and life, and this year will host a visit from our Ullapool group. 


St Magnus International Festival (June)
St Magnus International Festival is Orkney’s annual celebration of the arts. Founded in 1977, the Festival has grown from small beginnings into one of Britain’s most highly regarded and adventurous arts events. Though musical events are at the heart of the artistic programme, the Festival also encompasses drama, dance, literature and the visual arts.


Edinburgh International Book Festival (August)

The largest of its kind, Edinburgh International Book Festival welcomes approximately 250,000 visitors every year during the August festival season to enjoy over 900 events with some of the best authors from across the globe. We organise visits for around 30 of our groups to the leafy Charlotte Square Gardens each year, including a family day for our multicultural groups.


Wigtown Book Festival (September-October)

Words flourish in few places as they do in Scotland’s National Book Town. Wigtown is home to a community of booksellers and literary events, and their autumnal annual book festival is the culmination of that activity. 10 of our groups headed to Wigtown in 2019 and we’re hoping for even more in 2020. 

Our Partners

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