8 Book Summary Websites That Are Alternatives to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes

By | December 6, 2021

Book summaries are not only useful for students who have not finished their homework. Very few of us have read all of the world’s best literary titles, but we are expected to have at least some knowledge of everything from Macbeth to Ulysses.

You can save time from the torment of reading tomes by visiting websites like SparkNotes that offer chapter summaries for books.

But SparkNotes isn’t the only option out there. Here are eight book analysis websites that are reliable alternatives to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes.

BookRags is a student-focused book summary website. In addition to chapter reviews and summaries, the book also offers lesson plans for teachers, biographies of more than 1,500 authors, and a “Homework Help” section.

Students can use the Homework Help feature to ask specific questions about the book, which other community members want answered.

Book summaries are divided into categories such as Literary Movement, Drama, Non-Fiction, Poetry, and Shakespeare. You’ll even find some movie summaries.

Most summaries on BookRags require you to subscribe. Plans cost $20 for a month or $100 for a year. There are several free summaries that you can access using the links in the left-hand panel.

WikiSummaries is a wiki, meaning anyone can edit content and add new books. Thousands of summary books are available, all of which are free to access and read.

The downside of book summaries on WikiSummaries is the depth of content. The majority of books have no more than a few paragraphs dedicated to them. Some are just a few sentences. Yes, they’ll give you an overview of the plotlines if that’s your thing, but for students looking for a deeper analysis of the underlying theme, the site won’t suffice.

JSTOR is arguably the best alternative to CliffsNotes and SparkNotes. In many ways, this is the better of the two.

It is designed for people studying English literature at university advanced level and beyond. Indeed, JSTOR is a complete research database.

In addition to book summaries and basic chapters, it includes book reviews from literary critics and analysts, text analysis tools, and a plethora of data for you to dig into.

JSTOR subscriptions start at $20/month. For the price, you can download 10 PDFs. If you subscribe to the $200 annual plan, you will get unlimited downloads. Many colleges and libraries provide free access to their customers, so be sure to ask before signing up.

Shmoop is another website like SparkNotes. The target audience is pre-university level students. If you do a test ACT, SAT, or AP, websites like Shmoop are important resources.

While they are the heart of the site, the content on Shmoop is more than just summaries of books and chapters. You’ll also find study guides for everything from marine biology to oil drilling.

If you use Shmoop, you can rest assured that the material you access will be accurate and well-written. All summaries are written by persons holding a Ph.D. in their respective fields.

Students need to pay $25/month to access the materials. Prices vary for teachers and other users.

Don’t be put off by the old looking PinkMonkey website. The book summary website is one of the best CliffsNotes alternatives. It has summaries for more than 460 of the most studied books in high school.

Sadly, many of the book summaries used to be free, but are no longer the case. On the bright side, you can buy summaries in a one-time purchase; You don’t have to sign up for a lengthy plan that you’ll barely use once you’ve finished learning a certain title. Most book summaries are available for between $5 and $10.

If you’re still not satisfied with our list of websites like SparkNotes, check out GradeSaver. The summaries of the books in the “ClassicNotes” series were all written by Harvard students.

You’ll find book reviews of all the titles you’re likely to study in school, including To Kill a Mockingbird, Animal Farm, The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, Lord of the Flies, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Best of all, the chapter summaries on GradeSaver are free to read. There are even free quizzes, mock exam titles, and theme guides to help you prepare for the big test.

To access the complete guide (with even more information and analysis), you must subscribe. Plans cost $20/month or $100/year.

Novelguide is an alternative to CliffsNotes and SparkNotes that focuses on free plot summaries. For some especially the more well-known books you will also find theme analysis, metaphor analysis, citation lists and author biographies.

Far from being a book summary, Novelguide contains a wealth of other information that students may find useful, including free essays on everything from the Growth of the Asian Economy to the Life of George Washington, and a Q&A section for popular books.

We end with LitCharts. This website is created by the same team that supports SparkNotes, so you can be sure of a quality experience.

It offers more than 1,100 book summaries and literature guides, as well as poetry guides and a glossary of literary terms. And uniquely among book summary websites you can read every Shakespeare play, poem and sonnet paired with a modern English subtitled translation.

Membership on LitCharts costs $10 per month or $60 per year. Members can download all of Shakespeare’s book summaries and translations in PDF format, access excerpts from excerpts, and use advanced search features.

Don’t Forget About Newspapers

Finally, don’t forget to consider newspapers when you search for book analysis websites.

Many of the world’s most famous spreadsheets have extensive book sections, with comprehensive reviews of everything from old classics to modern bestsellers.

And remember, the web is full of fantastic resources for book lovers. If you want to learn more about what else is on offer, make sure you read our other articles Best Online Ebook Store and Best Book Review Site