The topic of this blog is something that I have been enjoying for several years and is one of those things that really makes me wonder what I used to do before I ever had these? The item: a floating bookshelf!
First, let’s talk about the purpose of a bookshelf:
1) Holds books…yep, makes sense
2) Let’s you look at your stuff
3) Sometimes (often) holds other non-book-type stuff
When it comes to shelves, there are a bunch of different options, and I’ve tried most of them.
a) There’s your standard upright bookshelf that butts up against the wall and goes from floor to however high you can manage. These are fine, but they take up precious floor space and no matter how you organize things, there is a lot of wasted space. (Don’t even get me started on corner units.) I currently have 6 of the standard uprights (and zero corner units). These standard ones are hard to avoid having because I have stuff that I want to access.
b) There’s your single shelf attached to wall option. These are fine. I own a few of these too. There are a few variations for these.
i) You can have one with sides which often allows for more anchors into the wall and thus added strength and stability. Often these are called a “U” shape.
ii) Some of the better designs turn upside down so you aren’t restricted on the sides by the attachments.
iii) Others look like just a floating plank. I like the open floating look more, but my biggest qualm with these ones is that they often start slanting down away from the wall. Put something too heavy on just once and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
c) There are cubby shelves, which can look neat for one or two small items, but aren’t very practical for holding a lot of stuff.
d) There are the bookshelves that you can’t see, the ones that hide behind your books and make it look like the books are floating.
There’s something about these that made me want to get them so many years ago. Maybe it was in fact a bit of a gimmick. It had something different that I hadn’t seen before, but they didn’t let me down, and I’ve amassed a bit of a collection of them.
Here are some of the reasons why I think the floating bookshelves had staying power for me:
1) I really do enjoy seeing my books
They feel like a combination of trophy / artwork for me. Having read through a series, I feel a sense of pride, a sense of completion, that goes along with it. For any books that I’ve purchased for myself, I couldn’t justify keeping them boxed up long-term somewhere, so of course they go on a bookshelf. I’ve tried keeping them on conventional bookshelves and they feel like they kind of take up space that I’d rather have available for other accessible things. I think more to the point, the stand-up bookshelves are just something I’ll naturally walk by; they’re not things that I’ll stop at. I don’t know how to better put it than: I don’t get the sentiment that I want to “stop and smell the roses” when things are on a regular upright bookshelf.
The second part was the artwork aspect. I enjoy keeping the hardcovers of books I enjoyed reading. (Yes, for a series I’m enjoying, sometimes I’ll buy a set of hardcovers even when I’ve already read some of the books in the series that I bought as used paperbacks or borrowed from the library.) Even when I realize that there is a low likelihood of me re-reading the books I’m displaying, I enjoy having nice copies on display. When you consider them as useable art pieces, they’re actually fairly inexpensive (and they bring me more joy than most art would since there is some meaning with the books that I’d be less likely to get from a picture someone else made).
2) The shelves can be placed anywhere to make the area look great!
Unlike regular bookshelves, these floating ones don’t take up a lot of space. They’re great for any nook or small wall-space that is lacking something to look at.
3) I’ve never been worried about my books falling over.
With some of the other bookshelves, I’m worried about my stuff falling. For the floating ledge style, I already mentioned that they can start to tilt outward. For any bookshelves without side walls, I’m worried about books tipping left or right. Even for upright bookshelves, I’ll anchor them to the wall for fear that they might topple if I bumped them.
With these floating bookshelves, the books are stacked on top of one another and the wall-mount is very sturdy.
4) They bring me joy
I guess this ties is with Point #1, about the trophy/artwork aspect of things, but these are just shelves that bring me joy. They let me look at my collection. They’re very easy to use. They work well in any space. Simply put, they haven’t let me down.
Some final notes:
1) These bookshelves come in two sizes. Unless you’re certain the large will work with your books, just get the small ones. The small ones work well for all my hardcover novels. With the larger version, the part that juts out is just a wee bit too long to be able to nest the book cover on the lip as it’s intended. The large ones will still work if you want to just sit your books on top of the shelf, but it’s much nicer to have the full effect of seeing none of the shelf by clipping the bottom book in properly.
2) If you’re hesitant about having a thin metal piece under the front cover of your book, from experience, I’ve never had an issue with it and these have never damaged any of my books.
3) The shelves are usually sold in 3-packs, but you can also get them individually. I’d recommend the 3-pack. It’s a bit better value, but the main reason to get at least 3 is that you’ll have more flexibility to display your books in a way that you can enjoy.
This is by far my favourite way to display my book collection. If you own any physical books, this is one of those purchases that you’ll wonder why you didn’t make earlier.
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