I think the prerequisite for any writer is being utterly obsessed with words — and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m the ultimate bookworm. Wiggle, wiggle, y’all! From saucy graffiti in toilet stalls to lengthy classics, I’ve read them all. And that’s why I also have an unhealthy amount of books in my apartment. But unfortunately, I’m a ~little~ shy of the $12 million I need for my dream home (complete with a giant water slide, candy room, and the cutest li’l reading nook), which is why my books were just in a giant pile on the floor — until recently.
You see, I always thought that I couldn’t have a bookcase in my apartment. Giant, heavy things aren’t exactly renter-friendly, especially when your living room is also your bedroom! But it turns out that small-space bookshelves exist, and they’ve been designed specifically for small space dwellers like you and me. These bookshelves neatly fit in corners, they climb up your wall, and some of them even spin! And don’t worry, you should know by now that I haven’t chosen anything that will ruin your aesthetic. The only question you'll be asking is how to organize your books once your fancy new bookshelf arrives.
So, whether you’re a college student and need somewhere to organize all of your (ridiculously overpriced) school books in your teeny dorm or whether you’re just a bookworm looking for book storage in a tiny wormhole like me, these are some of the best bookshelves for small spaces. And if you can’t fill them, that’s just another excuse to buy more books… right? Right!
9 of the best bookshelves for apartments, dorms, and other small spaces
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The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article.
Perfect for corners
Size (in.): H65 x W18.5 x D11.8
Made from: Particle board, metal
The corners in any apartment or home often end up as dead space, and there are so many ways to make the most of a corner! But it’s safe to say that I’m pretty obsessed with this iron bookshelf. With six tiers to store all of your books, this shelf will barely take up any space in your small apartment, which means you have even more space for activities! The shelves are perfect for books or other li'l bits. Don’t worry if you don’t like the dark brown; this design also comes in cherry or rustic brown.
Cute li'l floaters
Size (in.): H6.1 x W11.41 x D6.1 / H6.1 x W13.7 x D6.1 / H6.1 x W15.7 x D6.1
Made from: Metal, wood
Yep, this really is the price for a 3-piece floating shelf set! Which means that it’s your lucky day, besties, because these bookshelves are super cute AND super affordable. And we all know that a floating shelf is a great alternative to a bookshelf that sits on the floor, especially if you don’t have a lot of floor space to work with. By sticking a few shelves on the walls, you can instantly give your books a home - and these marble shelves have a weight capacity of 40 lbs. Hint: if you need a little refresher, this is how to properly install a floating shelf.
Ideal cube storage
Size (in.): H56.7 x W15.4 x L30.2
Made from: Particle board, medium density fiberboard
I have SO MANY of these cube storage organizers around my apartment, as it’s honestly one of the most versatile pieces of furniture I’ve come across. I use it for shoe and clothing storage, and for my books! Yep, it makes a perfect bookshelf for a small space, as you use it horizontally or vertically depending on what you’re working with. You can present your books aesthetically on the shelves or just shove them in some cute boxes! The choice is yours.
Aesthetic and industrial
Size (in.): H70.9 x W23.6 x D19.7
Made from: Metal, wood
Although I’ve always dreamed of having a bookshelf ladder like Belle in Beauty and the Beast, it’s safe to say that this is the next best thing when you have a small space. Uh-huh, this industrial ladder bookcase offers four shelves for all of your books, no matter big or small, and I just love the look of it! It offers a quirky design without being too heavy or taking up too much space in your living room. And it has enough space for you to fill it with all of the books in your li’l library.
The perfect pyramid
Size (in.): H53.9 x W12.8 x L31.5
Made from: Bamboo
Urban Outfitters is really amping up its organization products at the moment, and I am HERE FOR IT! And while I know this small space bookshelf isn’t exactly the cheapest on the list, I couldn’t ignore it. The triangle shape is unique, and the wooden legs with the white shelves are so aesthetically pleasing and perfect for boho lovers. Plus, the different-sized shelves really give you the chance to store your books with style. You could stand some up, pile others on top of each other, or organize them by color to really make this unit a statement piece in your apartment.
Size (in.): H57 x W10 x D20
Made from: Particle Board
Everyone has their favorite colors, and if you’re someone that loves black furniture… look no further! This black bookshelf is quirky and unique without being impractical, and that’s a combination that’s often hard to nail. With oodles of space for your books, the eight shelves allow you to style your novels however you want. Because it’s taller rather than wider, it won’t take up a huge amount of floor space in your apartment. And as if that wasn’t enough, it’s super lightweight so you can easily move it around until you find its perfect spot.
Size (in.): H54.9 x W7.9 x D23.7
Made from: Metal
Modular furniture is perfect when you’re looking to organize a small space, and this modular bookcase also looks super modern and industrial. This Amazon find is made from solid metal, so you don’t have to worry about it buckling under the weight of your MANY books. But its modular design also means that you can tailor it to your room. You can make it as small or as big as you want it to be, and if you don’t have enough books to fill it, you can still use this to store literally anything else. The modular world is your oyster, baby!
360 degrees of cool
Size (in.): H51.2 x W15.7 x D15.7
Made from: Wood
Okay, okay. This one is a bit of a wildcard. But it’s pretty cool, right?! This rotating bookshelf might not suit everyone’s budget, but when you think about it… it’s pretty good value for money. Thanks to the rotation aspect, anyone living in a small space just has to give it a good ol’ spinny spin spin to get even more room out of their bookshelf. All in all, there are four large shelves (or five if you count the top) that are split up into their own little sections. It would fit perfectly in a corner, and comes in either white, black oak, or rustic brown!
Size (in.): H37.4 x W12.2 x L16.9
Made from: Wood, Rattan
Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a huge boho decor lover, which is why I’m OBSESSED with rattan. And who could resist a three-shelf rattan bookcase for under $70? Not me, that’s for sure. This cute and compact bookshelf would fit perfectly in a small living room or dorm room, and the shelves gradually increase in size as you go down. This means that you should be able to fit everything from your TikTok-inspired fiction reads (here’s looking at you, Colleen Hoover) to your giant school textbooks in this nifty li’l contraption. What more could you want?
How do you fit a bookshelf in a small space?
Two words: dead space. Yep, without realizing it, many of us leave dead space in our homes. These are normally the corners and the walls, and we usually leave them free from decoration or furniture because they’re awkward shapes and sizes (and because our landlord refuses to let us drill anything into the wall). But these dead spaces are actually perfect for bookshelves, and it’s easier than ever to find corner bookshelves or even spine-style bookcases that sit flush against a corner wall. Plus, you can always try and fit floating shelves onto your wall with adhesive strips or hooks. Just be careful that you don’t put your heaviest books on these shelves!
How do I get the most space out of my bookshelf?
To gain a little more insight into this, I asked professional organizer and interior stylist Charlotte Sitton — aka @organisedbycharlotte — how to make the most out of a bookshelf when you only have a small amount of space to work with. “If you measure the shelf, you could get some baskets to sit nicely so you can store smaller objects more effectively, and it could look much nicer than stuffing things on shelves,” she says. Sitton also notes that shelf dividers are “genius ways to get more from a shelf.” By using a shelf divider, you can use the bookshelf for more than your fave reads. The opportunities are endless, people.
How we chose these bookshelves for small spaces
A lot of the products in this guide will be featured elsewhere on our site, and that’s because we only recommend products that are actually worth your hard-earned money. The products above have been picked either because the Real Homes team has tried and fallen in love with them ourselves, or because shoppers have rated them extremely highly online.
Where to buy a bookshelf for your small space
If you’re still searching for a bookshelf for your small space, don’t worry! See below for some of the best places to buy bookshelves from some of our favorite retailers.