The Best Bookcases and Shelves for Every Budget, Space, and Style

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(Image credit: Melanie Rieders)

The books we hold onto say something about us. Sometimes it’s because the characters, places, or plots are still a part of us, even after we turn the last page—and we’re not quite ready to donate, or pass along to a friend. Other times, they’re like to do lists: the titles we’ve been meaning to get to. Or maybe they’re just something you’re proud to display: Those books that telegraph something about your personality, interests, or convictions.

No matter the reason, book collections are really important. But the reality is that they also take up precious real estate, especially when storage is tight (and when isn’t it?). If you’ve got stacks everywhere, it’s time to invest in a bookshelf. No matter your style, budget, or collection, we’ve rounded up solutions that will suit.

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Every week we research new product categories and bring our final picks into the office, where we haggle and decide which ones make the final list. Everything is based on quality, appearance and price. These are what we could choose for our own home.


It might just be a rule that you can’t talk about bookcases without mentioning this versatile IKEA classic (the retailer claims one is sold somewhere in the world every five seconds). Display this minimalist piece as-is, or get inspired by the top 10 ways to hack a BILLY bookcase.

This mid-century modern tower from Target stands just over five-feet tall. Plus, three of the shelves are adjustable, so you can customize for your book collection. Note: You’ll need to assemble the particle board (which looks like walnut when you’re done) yourself upon delivery.


Borrow this one straight from the kids’ department—Crate and Kids (formerly Land of Nod), that is. The round style and brass finish feel both unique and modern, for a fresh touch that can work as well in the living room as it would in your child’s bedroom. At 35 inches tall and 31 inches wide, it’s ideal for small-ish spaces, too (and could even swap in as a bar cart during the holidays).

Inspired by popular DIY ladder-style shelving, the West Elm version is both sturdy and industrial (without any of the do-it-yourself-ness). Plus, it works well in small spaces. It’s also available in a “narrow” version for $50 less if space is truly tight.

This wall-mounted bookcase lends the sophistication of a built-in without the expense. Line several up on an empty wall, or just install one. The high-gloss lacquer makes a statement, while still letting your books (or some other objets de art) be the main event. It’s also available in black.


This design-forward bookcase is a splurge—but it is also a two-for-one. Fill it up with your books, then use one (or two) as a room divider to section off small spaces. How’s that for form and function?

Our editor-in-chief has these sleek shelves in her own apartment—she stacked five on top of each other to create a floating “bookshelf” on the wall. They’re sturdy, space-saving, and made of solid steel. Plus, they fit a surprising number of books. Price tag too steep? You can find similar looks on Amazon for less—we scoped this set of six from Wallniture out for just about $100.

If you have a large wall to fill and lots of stuff to store, consider this 60-inch wide option from Room and Board—which is available in 14 colors, including pink, orange, navy, and this bright pop of yellow. Like the style but don’t have five feet to spare? It’s also available in 36- and 48-inch options. They’re all 72 inches tall to house plenty of books (plus everything else your shelfie needs).

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Re-edited from a post originally published 1.24.2014 — LS