Worst Bookshelves Reviewed

There are a lot of terrible bookshelves out there, sitting quietly in Brooklyn apartments, doing unspeakable things to the books they are supposed to house and protect. Here are some of the offenders.

bookshelf 1

Okay horizontally is not the way you stack books. That’s just the rule. Do you know what happens when you stack books horizontally? Your fingers get caught under other books OR the books on top of the book you’re trying to pull out fall off and their covers get bent or soiled from the impact of falling on the ground. If you own this kind of a shelving system, you are a terrible storer of physical objects. You don’t care about their well-being and longevity at all, you careless monster. The only ways for these items not to be destroyed is if you hold all the books on top with one hand, while pulling out the one you want, and then pushing them all back flush against the wall when you’re done. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT??? It’s so much effort. Just get a normal vertical shelving system.


bookshelf 2

What is this? A Doctor’s office waiting room? This is a terrible use of space, is what it is. If this is how you store your books, you probably don’t even read that much. Also you can’t even see all the book covers, some of them are blocked by the books in front. Unless you’re a child who doesn’t have the patience/reading ability to peruse spines, you’re making things difficult for yourself with this bullshit shelving system. But it looks like this one belongs to a child so…free pass.


bookshelf 3

Something about this concept is awful. I am all for hidden book shelves, don’t get me wrong. “Hidden books in hidden nooks,” I always say. But something about this feels awful to me. I don’t want to reach in and grab a book. I don’t want to bump my head on the corners jutting out. I don’t want the noise/presence of someone walking up the stairs over me while I’m trying to look at books. Just get me out of here. (HOWEVER if you only flip this and put the books on the OTHER side:

not bad

well now you have my attention. I guess this system only works if you happen to have a staircase to nowhere or are willing to sacrifice access to the room to which a functional staircase leads.)


bookshelf 4

What. The hell. How did you put those books there to begin with? You will never get them back.


bookshelf 5

I don’t even know what to tell you. I see what you’re trying to do. I *get* it. But this is still a bad idea. None of those books look secure. They’re leaning all over each other, and five of them probably fell off immediately after this photo was taken. They are set up like dominoes—one falls in the wrong direction, they all go. Also because of the lack of pressure on either side of each book, they will warp over time. You know that right? And yet you’re still subjecting your books to this? What’s wrong with you. Don’t even get me started on the grooves that make this whole flagrant set up possible. Okay, I’m just going to say one thing about it actually: Unless you measured the width of each book, and carved the grooves out to fit exactly, the books will never fit the spaces.


bookshelf 6

Woah. Way to take the criticism and run with it. This is like a chameleon book shelf, and frankly half of me loves it. The other half of me doesn’t understand what you’re supposed to do with a large wooden block that only holds a dozen books. And I will not sit on the spines or welcome anyone else to, if that’s the implication here.


bookshelf 7

Okay I want to like this one. I really do. But how do you get to them? I don’t see a ladder. And frankly, ladders are not the most convenient way to pick out books. Unless the ladder is part of a floor-to-ceiling shelving system, in which the dream of having a floor-to-ceiling shelving system takes priority to the inconvenience of ladders. But this is no floor-to-ceiling dream system. It is a dumb midwall-ceiling system, and I don’t know why you have it.


bookshelf 8

Stop. Stop trying to angle your books. Do you know what this does to them? The scuffs this causes? If you find yourself looking at this kind of BS on etsy, reexamine your life choices.


bookshelf 9

There’s nothing too horrible about this one, but how much space do you have in your apartment to be able to do this is my question for you.


bookshelf 10

I. Hate this. This is going to fall.


bookshelf 11

Listen. I organized my bookshelf in rainbow order. I am that person. But this? This is going too far. I am not about to limit to books I read to match a tiny minimalist book collection made entirely of black and white covers. That is a standard none of us designers can or should want to reach. What am I supposed to do with all my other books? Hide them?


bookshelf 12

Don’t fucking tell me what to do.


bookshelf 13

Oh my god these are causing all sorts of problems they’re going to get that thing where the spine splits too much between two pages and it always opens up in that same spot and when the book is fully closed there’s still kind of a space that appears in between pages. Splitting, we’ll call it.


bookshelf 14



bookshelf 15

Oh my god. Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god. Why would you take such a beautiful thing and do this to it?


Review by

Amy Collier once saw Fabio at an airport. Fabio is an Italian model who has appeared on many classic romance novels, such as Love Me with Fury, Lovestorm, and More Than a Feeling. He has been the spokesperson for The Geek Squad, OralB Sensitive Advantage Toothbrush, Nationwide Insurance, Versace, and the American Cancer Society. He is 6'3" barefoot; usually in cowboy boots. Follow Amy on Twitter.


  1. Your review of single one of these are so spot on! Although that wood block one is curious. Notice how each book sits on its own block of the exact same width as the book? That reminds us that books are made from wood. Of course, it totally ignores the fact that books have a thing called ink printed on those wooden pages, but I think the people who use these types of shelves don’t care about the ink on the books. They only care about the form of the book.

    This article was so good, it makes me want to read the rest of your articles. I bet the ink on the screen with your words is funny ink. (wait, that sounds totally strange and makes no sense)

  2. Chris Bailey says

    Love this review! Worst ever bookshelf advice? A designer once told me, with a straight face, that I needed to shop for something *important* to put on my bookshelves. I had to ask: what is not important about books?

  3. gabi says

    # 15 made me cringe. I am very uptight about my books, and that is just a no-no.

  4. Louise says

    These are all obvious designer shelves, meant to make visual impact,to ” add to the look of the room” not for actual readers. Although, i have read that historically books were shelved flat, not standing up.

  5. Nugget says

    I came here wanting to poke fun at bookshelves. But then I liked them all. And I wanted this article never to end.

  6. Jim Petersen says

    Hey, several of these seemed to be pretty ingenious solutions to the problem of living in a tiny apartment with no storage space. Also, with regards to accessibility- doesn’t everyone have dozens or hundreds of books that you won’t really have any need to access anytime in the near (or even distant) future? I’d rather have them inaccessible but visible and breathing than to box them up and put them in the back of a closet.

    Speaking as someone who has actually utilized a couple of the ideas pictured. :)

  7. Pingback: 15 Vibrant Rainbow Bookshelves That’ll Make You Proud To Be A Bookworm – The Innocent Hearts

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