Written By
Published Mar. 15, 2022

The best bookshelves provide a perfect balance between style and utility to showcase your taste in everything from novels to houseplants. While there are many classic bookcases with horizontal shelves on the market for readers of paperbacks and hardcovers, fans of e-readers will find plenty of other uses for modern designs with open frames and intriguing angles. 

If you’ve got titles stacked in random places or doubling as coasters in the living room, a small investment in the right bookshelf will make it easy to tidy things up and tackle your reading list. Here’s how to choose the best bookshelves for your design aesthetic and some of our favorite picks. 

How We Selected These Products

Methodology 

We chose our top picks from a well-reviewed array of bookshelves that can be delivered to your home and assembled without strong technical knowledge. We also broke down our choices by category to match a variety of storage and design needs, and delved into product details to highlight key features and important considerations.

Assembly: We avoided products that a lot of consumers had a difficult time putting together at home, whether because of challenging instructions or missing parts.

Materials: Most affordable bookshelves on the market are made with engineered wood, which consists of a composite of materials that can include sawdust and other fibers in addition to natural wood. We considered bookshelves made from all types of materials to meet a range of budgets and aesthetic preferences. 

Price: We chose bookshelves at low to mid-range price points based on their style, size, and capacity. 

The Best Bookshelves: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Ironck 6-Tier Double-Wide Bookshelf

IRONCK

Check Price

Why It Made The Cut: With six shelves that can hold up to 160 pounds and a mostly open design, there are many ways to organize this piece in your signature style.

Specs:

  • Materials: MDF board and metal
  • Product Dimensions: 53.2 inches wide x 13 inches deep x 76 inches high 
  • Weight: 86 pounds

Pros: 

  • Generous shelf clearance
  • Sturdy metal supports
  • Industrial-chic aesthetic

Cons:

  • Higher price point

If you’re looking to make bookshelves a centerpiece in your living room, bedroom, or home office, the Ironck 6-Tier Double-Wide Bookshelf  offers plenty of storage space and flexibility to arrange a wide variety of stuff. Ironck’s industrial-style furniture can be found at big retailers including Amazon and Wayfair, and you don’t need to live in a loft with exposed brick to incorporate its pieces into your decor. 

With a metal frame, this piece already stands out from competitors that rely on plastic or engineered wood structures to hold your precious items. It also comes with a wall anchor kit and pads that go under the feet to protect your floor. 

The six tiers are divided in two by the frame to make twelve compartments, which feature criss cross metal pieces on each side that serve as bookends. Each shelf has 13 inches of clearance and 13 inches of depth, which will fit a majority of books. Some oversize books will also fit, giving you the opportunity to prop coffee-table books face out to display their stunning cover photos.

Best Budget: Furinno 4-Tier Corner Shelf

Furinno

Check Price

Why It Made The Cut: With a choice of three to five tiers in colors from pink to walnut, these low-cost shelves make it possible to quickly maximize the corners of any room.

Specs:

  • Materials: Composite wood, PVC tubes
  • Product Dimensions: 11.6 inches wide x 11.6 inches deep x 43.5 inches tall 
  • Weight: 7.721 pounds

Pros: 

  • Twist parts into place
  • Shelves curved in front
  • PVC tubing contains recycled plastic

Cons:

  • Color selection depends on number of tiers
  • Not a good choice for heavy objects

Affordable furniture company Furinno is carried at major retailers from Home Depot to Walmart and manufactures everything from desks to sofas. For people who want to quickly organize their space on a small budget, the Furrino 4-Tier Corner Shelf, as well as its three-tier and five-tier counterparts, offers a few distinct advantages.

From a design standpoint, adding bookshelves to corner space in a small room softens the room’s angles and can allow you to use wall space that otherwise would be bare. The plastic and composite wood materials are very light, making these shelves easy to transport. While you’ll have to purchase bookends to hold books upright with the open shelving, stacking a curated selection of books on their side by color or topic is a fun alternative.

The biggest drawbacks of these shelves are that they are not built to hold a lot of weight and they are held upright by just three poles, so they can have issues with stability and be prone to tipping. If you go for a five-tier model, it’s a much better fit for highlighting your favorite lightweight objects (like a vase or picture frame) than stowing the Oxford English Dictionary.

Best Tree Bookshelf: Himimi 9-Shelf Tree Bookcase

Himimi

Check Price

Why It Made The Cut: This tall set of shelves includes wall-mounting hardware and a base designed for stability, making its eye-catching style practical for everyday use.

Specs:

  • Materials: Engineered wood
  • Product Dimensions:  19.68 inches wide x 9.25 inches deep x 54.92 inches tall
  • Weight: 31.35 pounds

Pros: 

  • Contemporary look
  • Excellent capacity
  • Bottom shelf

Cons:

  • Intricate assembly
  • Comes in only one color


There’s a reason that most bookcases have horizontal shelves with solid supports on each side. Books are heavy! Book trees are a playful and clever alternative that can be more likely to tip, but the Himimi 9-Shelf Tree Bookcase is built to be more stable than others on the market. 

As long as the weight of your books is distributed evenly, the shelves can hold around 20 pounds. One advantage of this unique style is that grabbing a book can be easier. Each shelf has just a short stack to pull from, so you don’t have to deal with the domino effect of collapsing books when sliding out a selection from a traditional bookshelf.

While you can attach this bookshelf to drywall, you might consider anchoring it to a stud for extra stability. Unfortunately, this model comes in only one color, a dark brown with a wood-grain appearance (the shelves are particle board with paper veneer), but that lends a rustic air to a design meant to evoke nature. We also appreciate that fans of Marie Kondo may be able to store their entire collection of up to 30 books on the tree, depending on your preferences for light paperbacks or weighty tomes.

Best Desktop Bookshelf: PAG Desktop Shelf

Why It Made The Cut: With three distinct cubbies and a top shelf perfect for plants, this small standalone bookshelf can bring a mini library to your workspace.

Specs:

  • Materials: Melamine board
  • Product Dimensions: 16.54 inches wide x 7.48 inches deep x 17.13 inches high
  • Weight: 9 pounds

Pros: 

  • Available in six colors
  • Maximizes desk space
  • Portable

Cons:

  • Limited storage space
  • Cordless drill recommended for assembly

Sometimes you just need a tiny bookshelf to keep your desktop free from clutter and make it harder to knock your dictionary and thesaurus onto the floor (again). The PAG Desktop Shelf is surprisingly accommodating for its size, with its tallest compartment offering a clearance of 13.94 inches. 

The straightforward style of this bookshelf features three compartments and a top shelf, presenting many ways to arrange everything from notebooks to coffee mugs to photos of your pet. You can also set it on a kitchen countertop for an easy way to organize cookbooks, handwritten family recipes, and decorative kitchenware like teapots and tiny spoons.

Several of the finishes (especially the retro white and antique brown) have a vintage or distressed appearance sure to please people who love a rustic look. If you want you can flip the shelf upside down (turning the sides of the top shelf into legs), but keep in mind that will impact the sturdiness and weight capacity of the bookshelf. 

Best Solid Wood: Sawdust City Bookcase

Sawdust City

Check Price

Why It Made The Cut: This standout midsize solid wood bookshelf is strong and durable, and has a classic style that looks great in a rich variety of colors and stains. 

Specs:

  • Materials: Pine
  • Product Dimensions: 36 inches wide  x 10 inches deep x 32 inches tall
  • Weight: 44.5 pounds

Pros:

  • Classic shape
  • Natural knots provide character
  • High weight capacity

Cons:

  • Shelf height can’t be adjusted
  • Expedited shipping not available

If you love the smell of pine and find beauty in the unique knots and grain of natural wood, this Sawdust City Bookcase is an excellent furniture choice. This US company manufactures all their pieces in Wisconsin and specializes in pine furniture (and kitschy signs). You can even buy this bookcase unfinished if you’d like to flex your DIY skills and paint or stain it to complement your other decor.

With closed sides and a full back, this bookcase is ideal for storing collections, and its low profile looks great in a hallway with a few plants or a lamp arranged on top. Keep in mind that the three shelves have only 9.25 inches of clearance between them, so it’s a good idea to measure your collection, as not all books will fit. However, if you have many smaller books, this bookcase minimizes wasted space.

You’ll need a Phillips screwdriver and a hammer to assemble this bookcase with the provided screws and wooden dowels, but the upside is there are no cheap plastic parts to break or lose. 

Things to Consider When Buying the Best Bookshelves

Save yourself a lot of time by answering a few key questions before you start your search.

Room Dimensions

Always measure the height, depth, and width of the space where you envision your new bookshelf will reside and carefully check product dimensions. Be sure to note baseboards or other wall idiosyncrasies that may affect your measurements and account for extra room to anchor the shelves in the back and to walk comfortably in front.

Book Size

Grab your tape measure and your largest books to be sure your shelves have enough clearance and depth to store your books however you prefer, from upright to stacked on their side.

Assembly

Before you buy, ask yourself what types of assembly you feel most comfortable with, and whether or not you might want assistance to carry heavy materials up stairs or help holding tall structures in place while you screw parts together. 

Adaptability

If you anticipate using your new bookshelves for items other than books, choosing designs with open shelves and high clearance is likely a better choice than an enclosed bookcase. 

FAQs

Q: What is the difference between a bookshelf and a bookcase?

Unlike bookshelves, bookcases generally enclose the books they hold on three sides — with a back panel and two side panels in addition to horizontal shelves. However, many people use the terms interchangeably.

Q: What is a good price for a bookshelf?

Determining a good price for a bookshelf varies greatly depending on many factors including size, materials, budget, and aesthetics. Some people may feel like $25 to $100 is a great price for a bookshelf that lasts through a couple of apartment moves. Other people may find it a worthwhile investment to spend thousands of dollars working with a cabinetmaker to design built-in bookshelves custom to their home.

Q: Do bookshelves need to be anchored?

With any piece of large furniture, stability is a critical factor in home safety. In addition to taking the advice of manufacturers to avoid serious accidents, you should consider the risk to children, pets, and other vulnerable people and inspect your purchase for signs of weakness or tipping. If your region is prone to earthquakes, additional precautions may be needed. 

Final Thoughts

Armed with a tape measure and an honest assessment of what household items are essential to your happiness, you can transform a room with the right bookshelves. Our top overall pick is the Ironck 6-Tier Double-Wide Bookshelf for its versatility, metal structure, and storage capacity. However, any of our other picks might be just what you need to reach your organizational goals.

MORE TO READ