SparkNotes, like CliffsNotes, are "study guides" for the literature most commonly studied in English speaking secondary (High School), college and university classes. The intent is that they will help a reader identify literary devices and educate themselves to notice the things that will enrich the reading experience. Some students use them in place of reading the actual assignment. Teachers who are aware of this sometimes ask questions that they know are not answered in the guide or which are incorrect. Using the guide in addition to reading the book can help you understand things you might not have caught on your own. Using the guide instead of the book means you miss reading the richer source and learning how to find some of the interesting parts.
(Future: Add examples of how an understanding of the theme, foreshadowing, or other literary devices can make reading more interesting. Expand to cover other types of lit such as plays and poems.)
- SparkNotes online site