Harvard students started the platform, and even though it has been around for a while, there have been many competing platforms that might be worth a look.
While SparkNotes provides a very efficient way to study literature, it might not be the smartest choice since learning from summaries might lead people to interpret facts differently from the author.
Sites like LitCharts, JSTOR, and WikiSummaries are some good alternatives to SparkNotes. Though the best website like SparkNotes is BookRags. It’s a great platform not only for students but teachers alike. The learning experience on BookRags is one of its kind.
With so many places to find literature and get help learning and studying, these picks below are similar to SparkNotes and are at least better at one or two things than SparkNotes, so check out each website before choosing one.
BookRags is a similar website to SparkNotes that is made for both students and teachers. It revolves around helping everyone understand literature in an easier way.
With BookRags, you can find study guides and teaching resources, and even get on the forum to ask questions, browse through popular questions, and find the answers you are looking for. These are some of the things you can’t find at SparkNotes which make the biggest difference between these two picks.
BookRags includes detailed character guides, plot reviews, and even theme details for each work. On top of that, you’ll be able to easily find both fictional and non-fictional books alongside lesson plans for every book that’s posted online.
BookRags can also help with essays, bios, and homework. Even though the website hasn’t had a facelift in a while, registration is simple, and you can easily find your way around the website and books, thanks to the exceptional navigation.
If you’re randomly looking for literature and guides, BookRags includes a “new” section where they browse the latest guides, lesson plans, and books so you can never run out of ideas.
There’s even a section where you can get help with your homework which is another thing that SparkNotes doesn’t include.
LitCharts is another useful website like SparkNotes, and the most interesting thing about this website is that SparkNotes creators made it.
The point of LitCharts is to help students save time while experiencing less stress when going through hundreds of literature guides, terms, modern translations, and citation sources.
There are almost 2,000 downloadable guides. Each guide comes with detailed explanations and easier navigation through them thanks to a smart page numbering system.
LitCharts is also one of the best at providing literary terms and devices, which can also be downloaded as PDF files. All of this is organized in a much better way than SparkNotes, so LitCharts can help you improve your productivity which can make a huge difference.
But where LitCharts really excels is the modern translation of some of the most-known pieces of literature, such as every Shakespeare play or poem.
LitCharts is fairly easy to use, and most importantly, it continues growing in size, with new books being added on a weekly basis. And other than the standard works you can find on sites like SparkNotes, LitCharts adds themes, terms, and other types of literature to find specifically what you’re looking for.
Another useful thing is the citation generator which can save students a lot of work. If you have a hard time finding something, LitCharts also includes a smart search engine built into the platform to help students stay productive even in the preparation phase.
JSTOR can be considered a digital library where you can access primary sources that include images for any piece of literature you search for. These sources also include artwork, maps, photographs, and much more you can use with your work.
Compared to SparkNotes, JSTOR’s focus on images and media you can use with your literature is the biggest difference and is, of course, JSTOR’s strength in this comparison. And while SparkNotes has a decent test prep tool, JSTOR offers more tools such as a workspace, text analyzer, and more which are mentioned below.
These features can help students broaden their search and get more results than simply guides and lessons.
The books are organized by subject, title, publisher, and collection, but you can even find works of literature by images which is useful if you remember the cover but don’t remember the author or the name of the book.
But what’s even more interesting is that JSTOR includes some tools that are rare to see on websites like SparkNotes. These tools include a workspace, text analyzer, data for research, and even an understanding series.
On top of all that, JSTOR has an advanced search engine where you can look up journals, books, primary sources, and even images.
No matter how much material you find, you’ll always be able to stay organized by saving the articles to easily revisit them on the website, creating folders for better organization, and even exporting certain sources to have them directly on your computer.
If you’re looking for a free website similar to SparkNotes, where you can find summaries, lessons, literature, and more, WikiSummaries is the right choice. However, the biggest difference is that WikiSummaries is fully free and there are no upgraded memberships to unlock more content.
WikiSummaries is full of great books that come with summaries, and its database only continues to grow with time.
The website operates very simply, and you can search the books by author or do your own custom search using the integrated search engine.
The available books include Shakespeare’s works, but you can also find a wide range of fiction, non-fiction, and business books as well. You also get to sort everything by character or place which is one of the most useful features you don’t often see on websites similar to SparkNotes.
There is also a great range of business books which isn’t something you typically find on SparkNotes, so this difference makes WikiSummaries a better fit if you’re after business literature.
Also, WikiSummaries is one of the easiest websites to use since it provides a quick and easy navigation menu that lets you explore and find almost any book you’re looking for.
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Shmoop is an advanced website similar to SparkNotes but with plenty more to offer. Shmoop has sections for students, teachers, parents, and schools.
Shmoop breaks down complex pieces of literature with humor to make learning easier, which is a unique approach that isn’t seen elsewhere. This makes the learning process more fun, no matter how rigorous it is.
Compared to SparkNotes, this is the biggest difference and one of Shmoop’s strengths. Shmoop is also a lot more versatile than SparkNotes which can be a lot more useful in the long run.
With thousands of video guides, you won’t be buried in text. Instead, you’ll have a more focused attention span since Shmoop is organized to deliver boring content extremely well.
Alongside the learning material, Shmoop has tools that can prepare you for tests via courses, study guides, etc.
While students always come first on this platform, teachers also get the help they need to teach students much more efficiently. And if teachers end up liking Shmoop’s help, they can recommend Shmoop to their school district since there are packages available.
If you need help with novels, reports, essays, tutoring, or exam preparation, but you don’t have a budget, Novelguide is one of the best websites, just like SparkNotes.
At Novelguide, you can find recent guides in addition to the classics, like Shakespeare.
With a powerful search engine that allows you to find your school and directly get novels taught in your school, you can quickly find everything you’re looking for.
However, you can also search for novels, essays, and other pieces of literature in alphabetical order or you can simply use the advanced search engine integrated into the website.
But one of the best things about Novelguide is the forum where you can ask questions, find answers, and communicate with other students or even teachers who spend time at Novelguide.
On top of all that, Novelguide is free to use. You can even sign up for a free account. In return, you will only have to deal with a couple of ads on the website.
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GradeSaver is a great alternative to SparkNotes if you need help with essays and study guides to improve your grades.
GradeSaver has some of the highest quality study guides written and edited by Harvard students.
Some of the most popular study guides include Frankenstein, The Odyssey, and The Hunger Games, while GradeSaver constantly contributes to the website with new study guides.
GradeSaver also has a section of questions and answers where students can ask questions and get answers to them. The most common questions are published so everyone else can find the answers quickly.
On top of that, GradeSaver includes editing services that are ideal because it helps students finish writing their essays with criticism intended to help them improve their grades.
Keep in mind that besides a website, GradeSaver has an app for iOS devices to help students be more productive even when they’re not around a laptop or a computer.
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eNotes is the best place to go to learn about any book or get answers to specific questions you have in mind.
This platform has almost every important book for a student to summarize, analyze, and categorize. Notes and summaries for these books include in-depth guides full of facts and can help every student understand the theme, characters, story, etc.
Besides the most popular guides for books such as Hamlet, The Great Gatsby, and To Kill a Mockingbird, eNotes also introduces new and updated guides for more books.
There is also a database with almost 400,000 answered questions, so you can use the search engine to find answers to questions you might have quickly. And if you don’t find the answer you’re looking for, you can post a question yourself.
Besides study guides, eNotes also features annotated texts, homework help, and resources for teachers.
All it takes is to input a keyword into the search engine, and you’ll quickly be on your way to learning in a more productive way.
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Suppose you’re in a business school learning about practical concepts from the most popular business books. In that case, Actionable Books is the best website similar to SparkNotes that is specifically made for business students.
At Actionable Books, you can find summaries from over a thousand business books. You can also listen to consultants, conversations, and podcasts, and even purchase books.
You can quickly search for the book you’re looking for using the integrated search engine, but if you ever feel like you’re stuck or need any of your questions answered, Actionable Books has a Connect feature where you can connect with other students and occasionally some teachers who spend time at Actionable Books.
However, if you lack motivation or inspiration or are looking to learn something new without reading a single page, business podcasts available directly at Actionable Books are the best places to visit.
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Suppose you are not only looking for summaries but instead, you want to read the book as quickly as possible. In that case, Blinkist is the right pick for you.
Blinkist helps you gain more knowledge in less time via an app that is ideal for people who are always busy and don’t have time to sit down and read a book.
This app can help you read or listen to books on the go. While you can read and listen to full books, short casts of the most popular books can help you just like summaries can.
The best thing about Blinkist is that they have books on anything, including politics, creativity, economics, education, science, personal development, philosophy, and many others.
If you aren’t looking for a specific book, Blinkist will always help you find inspiration. All you have to do is click the category you’re interested in and Blinkist’s algorithm will help you find the books suitable for you.
So while SparkNotes is ideal if you know what you’re looking for, compared to Blinkist, you’ll get more inspiration along the way, which is Blinkist’s biggest advantage in this comparison.
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CliffsNotes is a platform that helps students explore, study, and review their work by providing literature notes, test prep, and study guides.
There’s a powerful search engine that can help you find anything available on the CliffsNotes website in only seconds. However, you can also use categories to find your way around the website.
The Featured section is full of useful information that can provide a quick start, and the Trending Notes section can put you on the right path, as you might be looking for common pieces of literature.
Including Quick Reviews, CliffsNotes can help you quickly refresh your knowledge, learn new things, and get yourself ready for any test or exam. This wisely organized section of CliffsNotes can be used relatively quickly, which doesn’t only improve productivity, but can also improve your confidence before taking an exam.
But what you can find at CliffsNotes, that you most likely can’t find at other similar websites, are test-taking strategies for the SAT, Praxis, GRE, ACT, and even the GMAT, among other tests. Both SparkNotes and CliffsNotes provide test prep, but CliffsNotes provides a slightly better advantage by providing more tests combined with quick reviews.
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If you’re behind with work and you haven’t even started reading the book, or you don’t have enough time to finish the book you started, Instaread can be a lifesaver.
Instaread is a couple of platforms that have summarized some of the most popular books into 15-minute listening sessions. This approach helps students by unlocking a lot of knowledge in a very short period of time. Students can also find inspiration and get things done for school, even when on the go.
Since you can use Instaread as an app on your smartphone and provide audio notes and summaries, you can quickly catch up and learn when you’re moving or are busy.
However, keep in mind that Instaread provides books and their summaries in a written format as well, so you always have a choice. So while both Instaread and SparkNotes provide a written format, Instaread excels at providing an audio format as well, which is the biggest difference between the two.
While you can use a search engine to find a book you’re after, you can also use the Most Popular section to find interesting books to read and also categories that can be helpful if you’re looking for inspiration.
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Readingraphics is changing the way we consume information and gain knowledge from books. This platform is the world’s first platform to produce and provide infographic summaries.
You can check out an entire book on only one page with these infographic summaries. With powerful visuals, you can visualize the books even better than your imagination could if you read the book yourself.
This is the biggest advantage over sites like SparkNotes since it can help people consume and memorize information quickly, and also gain knowledge more easily.
Aside from the one-page infographics, you can also take advantage of 10 to 15-page text summaries or 20 minute audiobook summaries.
On top of all that, Readingraphics features a rich blog with plenty of content and a library full of materials where you can learn from the best, absorb more insights, improve the way you learn, and even customize your learning experience.
Even though Readingraphics isn’t free to use, it offers free samples and is affordable, so it’s ideal for students.
With a powerful search engine integrated into the website, you can quickly find a favorite book in a learning format of your choice.
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If you’re looking for the best way to learn from books in the shortest period of time, getAbstract is a great choice.
getAbstract provides summarized expert knowledge in 15 minutes or less, and it’s ideal for individuals, such as students and teachers, or organizations, like schools or corporations.
While SparkNotes provides companion articles and full texts, getAbstract makes it quicker and easier to learn in a shorter time frame.
What’s so different about getAbstract is that it doesn’t only summarize books, but it also summarizes podcasts, articles, and other types of content you can find on the internet that’s usually too long to consume quickly.
getAbstract provides summaries in written or audio formats. Once you make a couple of first picks, you’ll get personalized suggestions as to what else you can take advantage of.
But what’s so great about getAbstract is that it is made to work in one of two ways. You can either get guidance that is ideal for tackling professional challenges step-by-step, or you can choose a reflective approach that can help you grow your understanding of the topic by consuming information quickly.
With dozens of categories and editor’s picks, if you’re not looking for something specific, you’ll always be able to find inspiration and something that will motivate you to learn.
getAbstract changes the way we learn and consume information so that it doesn’t feel “old-school.” Instead, it’ll take you a lot less time, which is just one of its advantages.
Soundview is a great platform similar to SparkNotes, that mostly focuses on sound notes and summaries of thousands of books. While SparkNotes only focuses on literature in a written format, Soundview makes it easier to consume and learn the content.
These audios give you insight into bestselling books that saves you time and provides you with summaries that help you learn everything about the book.
Not only will you know what the book is about, but you’ll also gain actual value from it, even though you won’t be fully reading it from start to finish.
Besides the 15-min audio summaries, you can also get text summaries that highlight the book’s best ideas. This feature is ideal for online-learning students and even teams or professionals looking forward to thriving in their field.
Even though Soundview isn’t free, it has very affordable yearly plans that are ideal even for students. And if you can get five or more people interested in subscribing to Soundview, you can get further discounts.
With so many similar platforms to SparkNotes, it’s important to check each website to learn the difference and see what the website can offer you or how it can match your specific needs.
One of the most similar websites to SparkNotes is BookRags which provides multiple formats that can help you quickly learn. It is ideal for students, but it’s also a great fit for teachers. On top of that, the most unique feature is the ability to ask questions and get answers since communication with other students and teachers is highly recommended.
However, each website has something different to offer, so while all these websites look similar, there are differences you should keep in mind and find a match for your needs.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.