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Ikea Brusali Close Up Credit: Kevin Oliver

The Best Bookshelves of 2022

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Ikea Brusali Close Up Credit: Kevin Oliver

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Product image of Project 62 4-Shelf Trestle Bookcase

Project 62 4-Shelf Trestle Bookcase

Assembly is a breeze with this bookcase. In less than an hour, you'll get a modern yet sturdy bookshelf. Read More

Pros

  • Quick and easy assembly
  • Shelves hold a good amount of weight
  • Clean, modern design

Cons

  • None that we could find
Product image of Sauder 5-Shelf Bookcase

Sauder 5-Shelf Bookcase

This is on the higher end of the price spectrum for a build-it-yourself bookshelf, but the final product is well constructed and well balanced. Read More

Pros

  • Well constructed and well balanced
  • Instructions are detailed
  • Timeless look

Cons

  • Higher price tag
Product image of Altra Lawrence 4 Shelf Ladder Bookcase Bundle

Altra Lawrence 4 Shelf Ladder Bookcase Bundle

We like the sturdy and stylish design of these ladder-style bookshelves. We just don't like how long it takes to put them together. Read More

Pros

  • Sturdy and attractive design
  • Instructions are clear and easy to follow

Cons

  • Takes a long time to assemble
  • Many pieces to put together
Product image of Abigail 69.75'' H x 35.25'' W Standard Bookcase

Abigail 69.75'' H x 35.25'' W Standard Bookcase

This bookcase is made of manufactured wood and comes with five shelves that are easy to slide in. Read More

Pros

  • Multiple color options
  • 3 adjustable shelves
  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • Some parts may arrive chipped
Product image of Ditlef 69.29'' H x 39.37'' W Iron Geometric Bookcase

Ditlef 69.29'' H x 39.37'' W Iron Geometric Bookcase

What we love about this one is its staggered shelves, which make it easy to view your library and knickknacks from anywhere in the room. Read More

Pros

  • Sturdy
  • Waterproof paint
  • Simple to clean

Cons

  • None that we can find

Whether you’re moving into a new place or just adding some storage to your walls, ready-to-assemble bookshelves are essential for organization.

But with hundreds of build-it-yourself bookshelves on the market, how do you know which is best for your home? Luckily, we’ve done the leg work for you. After extensive research, we whittled to the seven distinct bookshelves on the market today. Our top pick is the Project 62 4-Shelf Trestle Bookcase (available at Target) due to its breezy assembly and clean, simple design. But there were some other standouts as well that may find a way into your home.

Editor's Note

The recommendations in this guide are based on thorough product and market research by our team of expert product reviewers. The picks are based on examining user reviews, product specifications, and, in some limited cases, our experience with the specific products named.

Product image of Project 62 4-Shelf Trestle Bookcase
Project 62 4-Shelf Trestle Bookcase

The ladder style is certainly in vogue these days. If you want one for your own home, we recommend this model from Target.

While these freestanding shelves lack the functionality of traditional bookshelves (ahem, they have no back), they are becoming popular for their industrial style and ability to effectively showcase not just one’s book collection, but their coolest personal effects as well.

With that in mind, we wanted to really push this piece’s balance and weight distribution to its physical limits. We’re happy to say that it stood its ground (literally) when pushed against its 30-pounds-per-shelf limit with no balance issues whatsoever.

Part of the reason this shelf is so well balanced is in its refreshing assembly. Altogether, there were less than 10 pieces to assemble straight out of the box, including the shelves themselves. In less than an hour, we went from a sealed box to putting books on the shelves for testing. While ease of assembly is never a product’s biggest selling point, its refreshingly simple design reflects well on the bookshelf as a whole.

Again, unless you’re placing it flush against a wall, ladder style bookshelves don’t have the same book-holding functionality that their traditional counterparts have. But if this style is up your alley, Target’s Project 62 Loring 4-Shelf Trestle comes highly recommended.

Pros

  • Quick and easy assembly

  • Shelves hold a good amount of weight

  • Clean, modern design

Cons

  • None that we could find

Product image of Sauder 5-Shelf Bookcase
Sauder 5-Shelf Bookcase

For a more traditional look, the Sauder Five Shelf Bookcase is sturdy, well-balanced, and timeless. Unfortunately, it’s also fairly expensive at around $172.

Sauder is a well-known name in ready-to-assemble furniture. While the individual pieces on this shelf were somewhat unwieldy, they all fit together with perfection, including every connector, screw, and nail. Combined with detailed instructions and well-organized odds and ends, this heavy-duty bookshelf came together in an hour’s time.

When it came to testing the weight capacity and balance of the individual shelves, the Sauder didn’t disappoint, withstanding its weight capacity and demonstrating decent balance when the weights were stacked on one side. As for design, the Sauder bookcase isn’t going to be featured on the cover of any home design magazines anytime soon, but its look is timeless enough that it could likely blend into just about any home.

In the end, the Sauder’s price tag kept it from being higher on the list. Had it been under $100, it likely would have competed with the IKEA Brusali, simply because its wider design is more functional than our top pick’s tall and narrow build. Still, if you’re looking for a rock-solid traditional-looking bookshelf, we have no qualms sending you Sauder’s way.

Pros

  • Well constructed and well balanced

  • Instructions are detailed

  • Timeless look

Cons

  • Higher price tag

Product image of Altra Lawrence 4 Shelf Ladder Bookcase Bundle
Altra Lawrence 4 Shelf Ladder Bookcase Bundle

This ladder style bookcase is unique in that it’s actually a bundle of two smaller ladder style shelves, making it perfect for someone looking to expand their storage in a small space without spending too much out of pocket.

While the final assembled product was two sturdy and capable bookshelves, the assembly involved was the most frustrating of all of the shelves we tested. Unlike Target’s streamlined frame design on the Darley trestle bookshelf, the Altra Lawrence shelf came disassembled in as many pieces one could imagine. Seriously, break out the knee pads and back brace for this one, because not only do you have to assemble an overly complicated bookshelf. You basically have to do it twice. The end result was over three hours of intensive assembly.

To Altra’s credit, the instructions were easy to follow, but the over-complication of what could have been a much simpler design cannot be overstated.

After they were fully pieced together, the end result was two well-balanced ladder-style bookshelves that were industrial and stylish in design. If you’re into the ladder-style, want to make the most of the space you have and don’t mind a long assembly process, the Altra Lawrence bookcases are a solid option at $115.50. If you’re not into all the assembly frustration, take a look at our top ladder pick above.

Pros

  • Sturdy and attractive design

  • Instructions are clear and easy to follow

Cons

  • Takes a long time to assemble

  • Many pieces to put together

Product image of Abigail 69.75'' H x 35.25'' W Standard Bookcase
Abigail 69.75'' H x 35.25'' W Standard Bookcase

You can’t go wrong with a simple-looking bookcase, especially one that customers find very easy to assemble. That’s why we think you should take a look at the Abigail Standard Bookcase. This one is made of manufactured wood and comes with five shelves that are easy to slide in. Plus, three of them are adjustable to allow you to fit your tallest books and other home and office items. What’s better: the bottom shelf can hold up to 50 pounds, the fixed shelf can hold up to 40 pounds, and the adjustable shelves can hold up to 30 pounds.

As for the downside, some customers find this bookcase to have chips in the paint when it arrives. In our opinion, that could certainly be a dealbreaker, but it is a risk we think would be worth it to take.

Pros

  • Multiple color options

  • 3 adjustable shelves

  • Easy to assemble

Cons

  • Some parts may arrive chipped

Product image of Ditlef 69.29'' H x 39.37'' W Iron Geometric Bookcase
Ditlef 69.29'' H x 39.37'' W Iron Geometric Bookcase

If you live in a small studio apartment or want to place a bookcase in the center of a room, stop scrolling and check out this Ditlef Iron Geometric Bookcase. What we love about this one is its staggered shelves, which make it easy to view your library and knickknacks from anywhere in the room. This bookcase is also designed with black-finished steel and MDF board, making it sturdy and able to last. Best of all, the wood-grain shelves are waterproof and easy to clean.

Pros

  • Sturdy

  • Waterproof paint

  • Simple to clean

Cons

  • None that we can find

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Kevin Oliver

Kevin Oliver

Contributor

@kevintheoliver

Kevin Oliver is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.

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Lily Hartman

Lily Hartman

Staff Writer, Search

Lily Hartman is a staff writer at Reviewed. In her free time, she enjoys hiking the White Mountains, running at the beach, and strength training at the gym.

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