Book summaries aren’t just good for students who haven’t done their homework. They’re also good for people who want to read a book but don’t have time to do their own work. Many of us haven’t read all of the best books in the world, but we’re still expected to know at least a little about everything from Macbeth to Ulysses.
There are websites like SparkNotes that offer chapter summaries for books. You can save yourself a lot of time and pain by going to these websites instead of reading long books. But SparkNotes isn’t the only way to get help. Here are eight book analysis websites that are good alternatives to SparkNotes and CliffNotes.
BookRags is a site for students who want to read book summaries. Also, it has lesson plans for teachers, biographies of more than 1,500 authors, and a “Homework Help” section that can help students with their homework. Homework Help lets students ask specific questions about books that other people in the community will try to answer for them.
The book summaries are broken down into different groups, like Literary Movements, Plays, Non-Fiction, Poetry, and Shakespeare. You’ll even find movie summaries on the site, as well. Most of the summaries on BookRags require that you pay to use them. $20 a month, or $100 per year. Use the link on the left to get to a few free summaries.
WikiSummaries is a wiki, which means anyone can change the content and add new books. In the library, there are a lot of book summaries that are freely available.
WikiSummaries’ book summaries have a downside because they don’t cover a lot of ground in depth. Most books don’t have more than a few paragraphs about them. Some are only a few words long. The site will give you an overview of the plot if that’s all you want, but for students who want to go deeper into the themes, it won’t be enough.
JSTOR is probably the best way to get CliffsNotes and SparkNotes instead. I think it’s better than both. It’s for people who are studying English literature at a high level, like in college and beyond. The truth be told, JSTOR is a full-fledged research tool.
Basic summaries of the book and chapters are also available. It also has reviews of the book by literary critics and analysts, a text analyzer tool, and a lot of data for you to look through. A subscription to JSTOR starts at $20 a month. For the price, you can get 10 PDFs. If you pay $200 a year, you’ll get unlimited downloads. Check with your college or library to see if you can use their computers for free before you sign up for an account.
Shmoop is a website like SparkNotes, but it’s not the same thing. It is aimed at people who aren’t yet in college. If you’re taking your ACTs, SATs, or AP tests, a site like Shmoop is a must-have. Shmoop isn’t just about summaries of books and chapters. There is a lot more to the site than that. You’ll also find study guides for everything from marine biology to drilling for oil, so you can learn more about everything.
If you use Shmoop, you can be sure that the materials you’re getting will be correct and well-written. All of the summaries were written by people who have a Ph.D. in their field. Students must pay $25 a month to use the materials. The prices for teachers and other people who use the service are different, and they change.
You shouldn’t be scared off by PinkMonkey’s old-fashioned website. CliffsNotes is one of the best websites to get help with reading books. This book summary site is one of the best alternatives. If you’re in high school, it has summaries for more than 460 of the books you’re likely to read.
Awful: Many book summaries used to be free, but that’s not the case any more! On the bright side, you don’t have to sign up for a long plan that you won’t use after you finish a book. You can buy summaries one at a time. Most book summaries can be bought for between $5 and $10, but you can also buy them for free.
If you’re still not satisfied with our list of websites like SparkNotes, check out GradeSaver, which is also on the list. They are all written by students at Harvard. If you’re going to school, you’ll find book reviews of all the books you’re going to read. They include To Kill a Mockingbird, Animal Farm, The Catcher in the Rye and The Great Gatsby.
The best thing about GradeSaver is that you can read the summaries for free. To help you prepare for a big test, there are even free quizzes, mock exam titles, and theme guides that you can look at. If you want to read the full guides (with even more information and analysis), you’ll have to sign up. A plan costs $20 per month or $100 per year.
If you don’t want to spend money on Cliff’s Notes or SparkNotes, Novelguide is a good choice because it gives you free plot summaries that you can read. There are also themes, metaphors, quote lists, and author biographies for some books. For the more well-known ones, you will also find author biographies.
Novelguide has a lot more than just book summaries. There are free essays on everything from the economic growth of Asia to the life of George Washington, and there are Q&A sections for popular books.
We finish with LitCharts. The website was made by the same people who made SparkNotes, so you can be sure it will be good. It has more than 1,100 book summaries and literature guides, as well as poetry guides and a glossary of literary terms. It also has poetry guides. As an added bonus, you can read every Shakespeare play, poem, and sonnet paired with a modern English translation of the text.
For $10 a month or $60 a year, you can join LitCharts. Become a member to get all the PDFs of the book summaries and Shakespeare translations. You can also get quote explanations and use the advanced search.