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 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 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 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 Groups

Open Book’s current groups across Scotland:

Public Groups

Images & Words Group (Online)
Off the Beaten Track Groups (shared reading
& creative writing, Online)
Open Groups (shared reading &
creative writing, Online)
Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh
Stills Gallery, Edinburgh
Millennium Centre, Stranraer
The Open Door Café, Morningside, Edinburgh 

Multicultural Groups

Aberdeen ESOL Group
BAME Group (Online)
Maryhill Integration Network, Glasgow
International Women’s Friendship Group, Edinburgh
Shakti Women’s Aid, Edinburgh 


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

Groups (on Hold)

Deaf Action Scotland, Edinburgh
Rowan Alba, Edinburgh
Lorne Primary School, Edinburgh
St Columba’s Lunch Club, Edinburgh
Leuchie House, North Berwick 


Carnegie Library, Ayr
Blackness Library, Dundee (Online) 
Dunbar Library (Online)
Eyemouth Library (Online)
Glasgow Women’s Library (Online)
Largs Library (Online)
Paisley Library
Ullapool Library 

Health Related Groups

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

Island Groups

Kirkwall Library, Orkney (Online)
Lerwick Library, Shetland (Online)
Tiree Group
Western Isles Group (Online) 

Community Groups

Bethany Christian Trust, Edinburgh
Brora Learning Zone (Online)
Changes, Musselburgh
Dower House, Corstorphine, Edinburgh
Grassmarket Community Project, Edinburgh (Online)
Inverness Women’s Aid
LGBT Health and Wellbeing, Edinburgh (Online)
Next Chapters Groups, Dumfries & Galloway
Perth Group (Online)
Whizz Kidz (Online) 

Sheltered Housing/Care Homes

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

Other Languages

Scots Groups (shared reading
& creative writing, Online)
Gaelic Groups (shared reading
& creative writing, Online & In-Person)
Arabic Groups (shared reading
& creative writing, Online & In-Person) 

Get Involved

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

Contact Us

Open Book runs public drop-in sessions in person and online throughout the year. Find out more below. 


For online sessions, you’ll receive an Eventbrite booking confirmation email which will include a Zoom link – scroll down to the Additional Information section.

For in person sessions - please don’t attend if you are feeling unwell and remember to follow the health and safety guidelines of the venue.

Sign up to our mailing list to find out about exact dates and booking.

Diluain 12-1pm gach mìos

Mondays 12-1pm monthly

Leughadh Co-roinnte ann an Gàidhlig (Eadar-mheadhanach)

Shared Reading in Gaelic (Intermediate)

Clàraich airson àite

Book your place

Mondays 2-3pm weekly

Open Door Cafe Shared Reading Group

The Open Door Cafe, 420 Morningside Road, Edinburgh

Mondays 7-8:30pm monthly

BAME Creative Writing Group (for BAME participants)

Book your place

Tuesdays 10-11am fortnightly

Open Shared Reading Group

Book your place

Tuesdays 11:30am – 1pm monthly

Paisley Library Creative Writing Group

Book your place

Tuesdays 1:30-2:30pm fortnightly

Dunbar Shared Reading Group

Book your place

Tuesdays 12-1pm monthly

Gaelic Shared Reading Group (Beginners)

Beltie Books & Cafe, 6 Bank Street, Wigtown

Tuesdays 3-4:30pm monthly

Carnegie Library Creative Writing Group

Carnegie Library, 12 Main Street, Ayr

Tuesdays 7-8:30pm monthly

Next Chapters Creative Writing Group
(for those aged 60+ based in Dumfries & Galloway)

Book your place

Dimàirt 7-8pm gach mìos

Tuesdays 7-8pm monthly

Leughadh Co-roinnte ann an Gàidhlig (Luchd-tòiseachaidh)
Shared Reading in Gaelic (Beginners)

Book your place

Dimàirt 7-8:30pm gach mìos

Tuesdays 7-8:30pm monthly

Sgrìobhadh Cruthachail ann an Gàidhlig
Creative Writing in Gaelic

Book your place

Wednesdays 9:30-11am monthly

Scots Creative Writing Group

Book your place

Wednesdays 7:30-8:30pm monthly

Play Reading Group

Book your place

Wednesdays 11.30am – 12.30pm fortnightly 

Paisley Library Shared Reading Group

Book your place

Wednesdays 2-4pm monthly

Dundee Creative Writing Group

Book your place

Wednesdays 5:30-7pm monthly

Stranraer Creative Writing Group

Millennium Centre, 75 George St, Stranraer

Wednesdays 5-6pm monthly

Next Chapters Shared Reading Group
(for those aged 60+ based in Dumfries & Galloway)

Book your place

Thursdays 10-11am monthly

Well Versed Poetry Reading Group

Book your place

Thursdays 10:30-12pm monthly

Stills Gallery Creative Writing Group

Still Gallery, 23 Cockburn Street, Edinburgh

Thursdays 11:30-12:30pm monthly

Paisley Shared Reading Group

Ferguslie Library, Tannahill Centre, Paisley

Thursdays 2-3:30pm monthly

Off the Beaten Track Creative Writing Group

Book your place

Thursdays 2-3pm monthly

Off the Beaten Track Shared Reading Group

Book your place

Thursdays 6-7pm weekly

Open Shared Reading Group

Book your place

Fridays 10-11:30am monthly

Images + Words (Writing Inspired by Scottish Art)

Book your place

Fridays 11:30-1pm monthly

Open Creative Writing Group

Book your place

جمعة شهريا

Fridays 2-3pm monthly

القراءة المشتركة باللغة العربية Arabic Shared Reading Group احجز مكانك Book your place

Saturdays 11am – 12pm monthly

Shared Reading in Scots

Book your place

If you would like to take part in any of these sessions please book via Eventbrite using the relevant link above - places will be limited.

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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