Once upon a time, I was reading Goodnight Moon to my daughter before bed. She had just started talking and, when I paused after turning the page, she continued reading. I was certain in that instant that my child was a genius. After she finally went to sleep, it dawned on me that she had plenty of opportunity to memorize the story since we read it practically every night. 

Years later, with one daughter off to college and another independent and busy with her high school world, I found myself thinking back on the quiet evenings when we would read Charlotte’s Web together aloud, one chapter at a time, pausing to investigate the Wilbur, Templeton and other illustrations accompanying the story.

Then, like a message spun into a spiderweb, Bookstock came into my life.

My first impression of the sale was its scale — taking over the mall from one end to the other, the huge inventory of books and the number of volunteers involved in running the operation. I really enjoyed my first time at Bookstock. I liked talking to the customers and helping them find the book, album or movie that they were looking for. It was so exciting to rifle through the numerous tables and boxes and emerge with that “special” book that they were searching for. 

Harry Potter, especially in hardcover, is always in demand and copies can turn on different tables depending what volunteer (or hat) does the sorting. I’m struck every year by people who come looking for Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, either to pass them on to a new generation or just to reconnect with the young detectives decades later. 

Cookbooks are another delight at Bookstock. We have plenty of copies of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, though I’ve never turned up a coveted first edition. I love the well-tread copies of hers, Ina Garten’s and others — cracked spines, notes in the margins and sauce stains.

Then there’s the other media, not to be overlooked beyond the sea of books. Vinyl is in greater demand every year. Last year, we ran out of the “classics” — Joni Mitchell, Fleetwood Mac and co — but we have a much bigger inventory this year, along with the older oldies.

HomePage - Bookstock Used Book and Media Sale
About Bookstock Bookstock, Used Book & Media Sale, is a community service project through which donations of books and media continue to provide enjoyment and knowledge. Proceeds from the sale support education and literacy projects in the Detroit metropolitan area and beyond. The entire process of collecting and sorting gently used books and media, organizing…

In the past 20 plus years, Bookstock has evolved from a seasonal project into a yearround operation — planning, collecting, sorting, selling. Over the years, my role with the project has expanded and I have made wonderful friendships along the way. 

Through the Bookstock and the Bookstock Fund, I have learned about organizations and programs working to promote literacy in southeastern Michigan. Some of the programs we at Bookstock support include: Remain in Touch, InsideOut Literary Arts Project, Brilliant Detroit and City Year. I went to a City Year reading celebration at Durfee Elementary-Middle School in Detroit last year. I watched these students read their own stories and poems from a published booklet. They were all so proud and enthusiastic throughout the whole event.

I have also had the opportunity to participate in the B.E.S.T. Award (Bookstock Extraordinary Student/School/Teacher Award) created to honor 4th grade students in Detroit Public Schools. These students write about their favorite character in a book and why. They range from Captain Underpants and the Cat in the Hat to Harriet Tubman and Malala Yousafzai. I am so impressed with the range of writing I get to read. These students write about how they relate to their favorite book character — so often ones who are good and loyal friends or siblings, working to support their family or improve the world around them. 

This is the gift of Bookstock. Everyone feels good about being a part of it. Volunteers love facilitating the whole process, from collecting, to sorting to selling the books. Donors know their books — and music and movies and more — will get a new home and chance to be treasured by someone new. Shoppers delight in their finds and the way their money is going to support literacy and education projects in our communities. And our community partners do the vital work of making sure literacy is a part of everyone’s life. 

But you don’t have to take my word for it…