Foreign Language Bookstores in Chicago: A Closer Look at a Few More Options

Back in October, I shared my woeful tale of needing to find a new foreign language-book purveyor in Chicago following the closing of Europa Books in Chicago's Gold Coast neighborhood. At the time, I set out to find and explore other new and old options for me and my fellow foreign language bookstore fans. Since then, I've checked out a few new bookstores, found about some local importers/warehouses, and came across a good French language book website. Here's all that I found out:

1) Chicago Bookstores:

City Lit Books

City Lit Books

City Lit Books

City Lit Books recently opened it doors in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood. The independently owned bookstore is truly a place for people who love books - and another good excuse to check out all the new offerings in this "hot" neighborhood. But, there's not a lot to browse in the foreign language book front.For adults, you can find a few class textbooks and workbooks. While there aren't any foreign-language books for children, City Lit Books does have shelves dedicated to "culture" and "people & religion" in their big children's section. I also liked their display of city-focused books for children - like "Eloise in Paris" by Kay Thompson and "This is New York" and "This is Paris" by M. Sasek - that I saw on my most recent visit.

Update: During my most recent trip to City Lit, I noticed a huge section dedicated to Spanish-language books. It had several shelves with books for kids and adults, too. I was very impressed!

City Lit Books is located at 2523 N. Kedzie Blvd., Chicago, IL 60647.

Powell's Bookstore on 57th Street

Powell's Bookstore on 57th Street


Powell's Bookstore on 57th Street
Powell's Bookstore is located in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood right in the heart of the University of Chicago campus. It stocks a great selection of new and used academic titles, text books and literature books - really covering any subject imaginable. While there are very limited foreign language titles for children, the bookstore has a large selection of French, Spanish and German language books for adults in the basement. Just be prepared to browse through a lot of options.

Powell's Bookstore on 57th Street is located at 1570 E. 57th Street, Chicago, IL 60637.

Open Books

Open Books

Open Books
Open Books is a nonprofit social venture that promotes literacy and a bookstore in Chicago's River North neighborhood - all rolled into one. Its store holds more than 50,000 donated books and has been called "the most beautiful bookstore in Chicago." It truly is an inviting place for you to browse their endless shelves of used books and pick out something for yourself and the fellow book lovers in your family. Open Books has a great selection of used children's books, including a few shelves with mostly French and Spanish foreign language books. Since Open Books gets its books through donations, its selection can greatly vary from one time to the next. But, I've usually had good luck finding a few educational and entertaining foreign language books on each of my visits to the store.

Open Books is located at 213 W. Institute Place, Chicago, IL 60610.

2) Local Importers/Warehouses:
As part of my search for my new "Europa," I found out about a few warehouse options for Chicagoans to also check out for a selection of foreign language books. While both warehouses offer you the opportunity to come in and "browse" the available books, your best option is probably to go online, check out their books, and then order them to be sent to your home or picked up for free at either location. If you do choose to venture over to either location, be prepared to go by address alone as neither warehouse has an exterior sign visible from the street.

Here are some more details:

Adler's Foreign Books
Adler's Foreign Books is an importer and distributor of foreign books in the U.S. It supplies titles in French, Spanish, Germ and Italian and primarily carries textbooks, novels, anthologies, and dictionaries. It carries a limited amount of children's foreign language books. You can search their selection online at

Schoenhof's Foreign Books
Schoenhof's Foreign Books is the parent company of the now-closed Europa Books. It offers an extensive selection of French, German, Italian and Spanish language titles. It operates a fulfillment center in Skokie at 8124 N. Ridgeway Avenue. You are welcome to go in and browse their available titles. If you venture out that way, be sure to go by the address in this industrial stretch of Skokie since there isn't a Schoenhof's sign on the exterior of the building. You can search their selection online at

3) Online French Language Book Resource
For Chicagoans interested in French language books, you should be sure to also check out Chicago-based Lectures de France, an online supplier of books, language magazines and other products in French for children, teens and adults. Lectures de France offers more than 1,200 titles with new ones added each month.

Like Adler's and Schoenhof's, Lectures de France offers you the opportunity to purchase your books online and then pick them up free of charge at their Chicago office located at 1230 W. Washington Blvd., Suite 202. For pre-paid orders, Lectures de France will contact you as soon as your order arrives at their location to schedule a pick-up time. Their pick-up hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can visit their website at

And the Foreign Language Bookstore Search Continues... 
So, with all that said, I have still yet to find a replacement for the old Europa Books. But, for now, I'm content to browse through the books at stores like City Lit and Open Books, and I feel good to know that Lectures de France is a great, local resource for French books. And, I still have an excuse to keep on the hunt...

Have you been to these foreign language bookstores or ordered from the online retailers? If so, how was your experience? Have you found any other favorite foreign language bookstores in the Chicago area? Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below.

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