One of my favorite symbols of Mary Magdalene is the open book. Like all good symbols, it conveys a multiplicity of meanings. Many of these images telegraph wisdom, learning and erudition. Mary Magdalene seems utterly absorbed by her reading, and this presents the impression of a serious scholar. This is all the more unusual when you reflect how most of these images were created in the 16th and 17th centuries: a time when female literacy, and certainly female scholarship, was rather rare.
The symbol also telegraphs Mary's Hebrew background, for the Jews are known as the people of the book, and it communicates the contemplative dimension of her personality
But my favorite association comes from the wordplay we have in English. To be an "open book" signals that Mary Magdalene is completely transparent and vulnerably honest, with nothing to hide: something for us all to aspire to.