WELCOME TO OPEN BOOK

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 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

BAME Group Glasgow, Edinburgh
Dower House, Corstorphine, Edinburgh
National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh
Open Door Café, Morningside, Edinburgh
Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (limited places available)
Stills Gallery, Edinburgh
Scots Group, Online only
Gaelic Group, Online only
Off the Beaten Track Group, Online only
Open Groups (shared reading & creative writing), Online only
Ullapool Group, Location TBC
Elderly Group, Wigtown

Multicultural Groups

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

Prisons

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

Libraries

Aberdeen Central Library
Blackness Community Library, Dundee
Corstorphine Library, Edinburgh
Craigmillar Library, Edinburgh
Eyemouth Library
Glasgow Women’s Library
McDonald Road Library, Edinburgh
National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh
Paisley Library
Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh
Stranraer Library
Hillhead Library, Glasgow
Dunbar 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

Island Groups

Kirkwall Library, Orkney
Lerwick Library, Shetland
Tiree Group, Location TBC
Uist Group, Location TBC

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
LGBT Health and Wellbeing, 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
Leuchie House, North Berwick

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 throughout the year. 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
BAME Group, Glasgow
Blackness Community Library, Dundee 
Brora Learning Zone
Eyemouth Library
Glasgow Women’s Library 
Kirkwall Library, Orkney 
Lerwick Library, Shetland
LGBT Health and Wellbeing, Edinburgh
National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh
Off the Beaten Track Group, Online only
Open Creative Writing Group, Online only
Paisley Library
Letham Community Centre, Perth 
Stills Gallery, Edinburgh 
Stranraer Library
Uist Group, Location TBC 
Ullapool Group, Location TBC

View our Group Calendar

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

Corstorphine Library, Edinburgh
Craigmillar Library, Edinburgh 
Dower House, Corstorphine, Edinburgh 
Elderly Group, Wigtown
Gaelic Group, Online only
McDonald Road Library, Edinburgh 
National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh
Letham Community Centre, Perth
Off the Beaten Track Group, Online only
Open Door Café, Morningside, Edinburgh
Open Shared Reading Group, Online only
Paisley Library
Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh
Scots Group, Online only
Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh
Tiree Group, Location TBC

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

thereader
EIBF_Full Logo_Mono_White
image001(3)
creativescotland
black
logo-the-travelling-public
awards_for_all
Lighthouse_Logo_black-28 (2) (1) (1)
BoS logo
Scroll to Top