A bookcase is an essential addition to any home library. Without a bookcase, books often get piled up around the house or stacked on tables. This not only looks cluttered, but it also makes it difficult to organize your books and find a particular text.
However, a wide variety of bookcase options are available. When choosing a bookcase, you may wonder which bookcase will fit your space and your book collection and also complement your decor preferences. This guide walks you through some key criteria to consider when shopping for a bookcase and highlights some of the best bookcases on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Sauder Select Collection 5-Shelf Bookcase
- BEST BUDGET: HOMECHO 6 Tier Corner Shelf, Industrial Bookcase
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Casual Home Montego 5-Shelf Bookcase
- BEST MODERN: VASAGLE Tree Bookshelf, 8-Tier Floor Standing
- BEST MIDCENTURY: VASAGLE Bookcase, 2-Tier Retro Bookshelf with Doors
- BEST HORIZONTAL: Walker Edison 2 Shelf Industrial Wood Metal Bookcase
- BEST CUBE: ClosetMaid Cubeicals Organizer, 12-Cube
- BEST FOR KIDS: Ameriwood Home Hazel Kids’ 4 Shelf Bookcase
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Bookcases
As mentioned, several considerations come into play when choosing the best bookcase. Consider the material, type, size, capacity, style, and color to determine which bookcase best suits your needs and preferences.
A variety of materials are used to make bookcases, including:
- Solid hardwood: Solid hardwood, such as maple, walnut, or oak, creates sturdy, stable, and fashionable bookcases. However, a solid hardwood bookcase often is more expensive and can be heavy.
- Wood veneer: In wood veneer, a thin layer of wood covers a heavy-duty, sturdy material such as plywood or MDF (medium-density fiberboard).
- Metal: Metal bookcases, which are quite sturdy, are commonly made of stainless steel or iron.
Some bookcases may feature a mixture of different materials such as glass and metal or wood and metal.
A few different types of bookcases are available:
- Vertical: These bookcases typically offer between two and eight shelves.
- Horizontal: Horizontal bookcases generally have either two or three wide shelves.
- Cube: Instead of shelves, cube bookcases contain cubed compartments.
- Modular: In a modular bookcase, users purchase two or more interlocking pieces and combine them to suit their needs.
- Ladder/leaning: Sometimes called “ladder” bookcases, this type of unit balances against or mounts to a wall at an angle. Their bottom shelves often look deeper than the upper shelves.
- Folding: A space-saving solution, a folding bookcase has removable shelves, and the sides fold.
- Corner: Their fan-shaped shelves are wider in the front and narrower in the back.
- Wall-fixed: Mounted at any height, they can be positioned above furniture.
- Kids: Kids’ bookcases often are painted in bright colors. A bookcase style almost universally specific to children’s needs, the sling unit, displays books facing outward to show off covers rather than the spines. Any bookcase designed with kids in mind also may have curved edges to make it safer.
Size and Capacity
Consider the size and capacity of the bookcase. Start by determining the location in the room where the bookcase will sit; take measurements and look for a bookshelf that fits the space. Also consider the overall size of the room and if the bookcase is suitable for the area. Next, consider the type of bookcase, the number of shelves, and the total amount of shelf space. Assess the number of books and their respective sizes, and look for a product that can accommodate them.
Next, consider the bookcase style and whether it complements the decor. Bookcases come in a number of styles, including:
- Traditional: Evenly proportioned and usually crafted from wood, some units incorporate carved details or filigreed accents.
- Modern: Modern bookcases, which are often made of chrome or stainless steel, incorporate 20th-century straight-lined, minimalistic designs.
- Contemporary: These bookcases complement the latest trends and styles.
- Midcentury modern: With the minimalist designs of modern bookcases, midcentury modern bookshelves may have decorative accents and offer a retro feel reminiscent of the 1950s and 1960s.
- Rustic: Often crafted from natural and untreated wood, these bookcases may look as if they belong in a cottage in the woods.
- Coastal: With a beachside style, these bookcases are crafted from materials with a weathered or sun-bleached appearance.
- Industrial: Constructed with heavy-duty metals and wood, these bookcases often deliver a more masculine or rugged feel to a space.
Color and Finish
Also consider the color and finish of each bookcase. Look at the color of the home’s walls, flooring, reading chairs, and other furniture items and any artwork or decorations to find a bookcase that looks as if it belongs in the space.
Some bookcases offer specific designs or features that make them more flexible, such as:
- Wheels: With wheels, bookcases move easily.
- Adjustable shelves: Set the height of each shelf to accommodate taller books or decorative items.
- Storage cabinets: Storage cabinets allow for hidden storage to maintain a clutter-free look.
- Room divider functionality: Doubling as a room partition, these units are freestanding.
Our Top Picks
Considering the criteria outlined in the previous section, the following list includes a variety of bookcases in a range of styles, sizes, materials, price points, and more. Continue reading to identify the best bookcases to organize a home library.
At 69 inches tall, the Sauder Select Collection bookcase has five shelves, each about 11 inches deep. Three of the shelves are adjustable to allow individuals to customize them to match their needs.
Made of engineered wood, the bookcase has a lintel oak finish to complement a variety of decor styles. All four sides of the bookcase are finished to offer additional flexibility. Assembly is required, but patented slide-on moldings are included with the purchase to simplify the process.
HOMECHO’s corner bookcase features a sturdy solid metal frame paired with fan-shaped shelves constructed from high-quality particleboard. The six shelves are almost 18 inches wide in front and almost 12 inches tall.
This bookcase has anti-toppling fittings in the top layer to prevent it from tipping and injuring a family member or breaking items on the shelves. It sits on plastic pads to prevent scratching the floors. The package includes all the tools and hardware required for assembly.
The Montego bookcase from Casual Home offers a spacious design and five shelves, each of which can support up to 25 pounds. At 63 inches tall, the Montego features solid wood construction.
The contemporary X-design on the sides and rich espresso finish help this bookcase complement a variety of home library decor styles. Its four legs support, balance, and protect books and other items stored on the shelves. Basic assembly is required.
This VASAGLE bookcase has an intriguing tree design with eight shelves arranged perpendicular to each other against a backing slab. Each shelf can support 22 pounds of books, magazines, DVDs, video games, or other items.
This bookcase has a walnut finish. Some basic assembly is required, but assembly directions are included with each purchase. To provide stability and prevent the bookcase from tipping over, anti-toppling hardware is also included.
The VASAGLE two-tier bookcase offers a retro, midcentury design. The bookcase has canted solid rubber wood legs with two wide shelves over a double-door storage cabinet. The shelves and frame are made from a heavy-duty engineered-wood frame that can support up to 110 pounds.
A walnut finish completes the look of this bookcase, and anti-tipping hardware and foot pads are included.
This horizontal bookcase from Walker Edison features two long shelves to hold books, decor items, book stands, and more. Each shelf can support up to 80 pounds.
This bookcase adds an industrial design to a home library. It features a powder-coated black metal frame with brown “barnwood” MDF shelves. Assembly is required, but users can follow the step-by-step instructions from the manufacturer to simplify assembly.
ClosetMaid’s Cubeicals Organizer is a 12-cube bookcase with four rows of three cubes. Individuals can place the bookcase in a horizontal orientation (with three rows of four cubes) or a vertical orientation (four rows of three cubes). Six panels provide a back to six of the cubes. The other six cubes remain open to the wall, making them work well with optional fabric drawers (sold separately). The bookcase is constructed from laminated wood with an espresso finish.
The Hazel bookcase from Ameriwood Home features four shelves with a lower storage bin. Children can store books, a book light, and small toys on the shelves, while the storage bin offers an ideal space for bulkier toys or stuffed animals. The bookcase is 60 inches tall.
This bookcase has curved side panels, eliminating the risk of a child bumping into a sharp corner. It boasts a neutral white finish that coordinates with different decor styles. The shelf is constructed from durable, sturdy laminated MDF and particleboard.
FAQs About Bookcases
To learn more about bookcases before making a final decision, this list of frequently asked questions and their answers offers additional information to assist you as you shop for the best bookcase to organize your home library.
Q. Which type of wood is best for bookcases?
Solid hardwood oak, maple, or walnut bookcases are a high-quality, sturdy choice. However, hardwood bookcases are heavy, challenging to move, and more expensive than those made with other materials. Plywood or wood veneers are a less costly alternative.
Q. How large does a bookcase need to be?
The number of books you own and the available space in your home impact the size of bookcase that’s right for you. To find a bookcase (or multiple bookcases) large enough to fit all of your books, count the total number of books in your collection and estimate their average width. Multiply the average width by the total number of books to determine the amount of shelf space required.
To determine shelf space, multiply the width of the bookcase by the number of shelves. For example, a 25-inch-wide bookcase with six shelves provides 150 inches of shelf space.
Q. Do bookcases need to be affixed to the wall?
No, bookcases don’t have to be affixed to the wall. However, if they are, you can place furniture and other items beneath the shelf to provide a less cluttered look to a space and remove concerns about the bookcase tipping over.