7 Alternatives to SparkNotes & CliffsNotes for Book Summaries
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Summer is finally winding down and it’s time for many students to get back into school and continue with their studies. For those who aren’t fans of literature, this means that dreaded reading assignments are on their way, with quizzes, tests, and book reports around every corner.

Sites like Spark Notes and CliffsNotes are often hailed as lifesavers for those reading-intensive classes, providing quick, easy-to-read study guides and summaries of books that students may not have even bothered to read at all. Still, these websites aren’t just for lazy bums, as they do make for great tools with understanding and analyzing the text.

If they don’t cover the textbook you’re reading The 11 Best Sites to Get College Textbooks Online The 11 Best Sites to Get College Textbooks Online Don't let college textbooks empty your pockets every semester. Use these websites to buy or rent cheap college books. Read More , all hope is not lost. Check out these seven great alternatives to Spark Notes & CliffsNotes.


With over 460 free study guides, book notes, and chapter summaries, PinkMonkey is a great resource for students.

spark notes

Along with detailed summaries, which include informative notes for further explanation, other helpful features similar to Spark Notes include things like key literary elements, overall analyses, and study questions are offered.


Shmoop is one of the best sites on the Web for learning about not only literature, but also other school topics like U.S. history, poetry, civics, biography, and even current bestsellers. The website provides a brief “in a nutshell” introduction to books as well as in-depth summaries. Other features include exploring the story’s themes, quotes, characters, and literary devices, along with plot analysis and study questions.


According to Shmoop, most of its writers are Ph.D. holders candidates from top universities, so it’s all top-notch content just as good as anything you’ll find on Spark Notes or CliffsNotes.


If you find the book you’re reading on JiffyNotes, it’s worth looking into. While the website’s design isn’t that great, it’s the content that counts.

alternatives to sparknotes

The site’s study guides focus on literary analysis and include chapter summaries and other unique pages like “Points to Ponder” and “Did You Know?” This makes for a great SparkNotes alternative.


GradeSaver is another great place for students in need of help. A well-written summary and analysis is provided for the book’s chapters, with other helpful additions like a glossary of terms, character list, and major themes.

sparknotes alternatives

You can even test yourself about the literature. GradeSaver features quizzes to assess your knowledge of the book and hopefully prepare you for the real deal in class.


BookRags has a sizable collection of free literature summaries and study guides. Along with chapter summaries, the site covers author/context, plot summary, major characters, objects/places, and quotes. Important topics about the book are also tracked and analyzed throughout the summaries.

sparknotes alternatives

Keep in mind that all of this is free and you don’t have to pay for BookRags’ premium service.


Like JiffyNotes, Bookwolf’s design isn’t very appealing, but again, content prevails. The website goes straight to the point, offering full chapter summaries and interpretations of popular books, avoiding additional features that are common elsewhere.

sparknotes alternatives

Bookwolf’s literature notes are still worthwhile if you find the title you’re looking for.


At just over 300 summaries, WikiSummaries boasts a collection of mostly classic books and novels.

spark notes

As a wiki, the site isn’t the biggest and greatest, but does offer good content, relying on its community for contributions and continued expansion.

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Do you use these websites for your assignments, or do you still prefer sites like Spark Notes or Cliff Notes? What are some of your favorites and have they helped you? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: austinevan

Explore more about: Education Technology, Note-Taking Apps, Reading.

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  1. Matt
    July 17, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    Great list! Moosmosis.org and Novelguide.com also has a neat small selection of book analyses.

  2. Sean
    April 7, 2017 at 10:02 am

    None of these have the book I'm reading

  3. Lily Fee
    May 4, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    Book Rags is not free. You have to purchase a study pack to gain access to multiple summaries.

  4. David Jacobs
    September 14, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Anyone know of a site that summarises business books?

  5. Jeremy
    September 14, 2009 at 7:50 am

    Wow... 8 years ago when I was a freshman in highschool I wasnt so lucky to have several websites to choose from. There was 1 or 2 and my English teacher knew all the notes and essays from those sites. Amazing how many there are now!