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METACANON 0.7
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METACANON 0.7

This is not a greatest books list.

Metacanon is a database that offers an alternative to the genre of the greatest books list. Unlike lists compiled by individuals or small committees of experts, metacanon builds custom book lists by culling data from tens of thousands of scholarly texts. This data-driven approach results in a more comprehensive, flexible, and inclusive gateway into the canon(s).

Metacanon 0.7 is limited primarily to American fiction after 1800, but future updates will expand to include other areas, genres, and periods.

Use the menu below to generate your own version of the canon.

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19th Century
20th Century
1800 - Present
New York Times Archive

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AMERICAN FICTION 1900-1999

# Title Author Year Score
1Mark as read.BelovedToni Morrison198727.15
2Mark as read.Invisible ManRalph Ellison195226.15
3Mark as read.The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald192523.31
4Mark as read.Native SonRichard Wright194022.25
5Mark as read.Absalom, Absalom!William Faulkner193621.89
6Mark as read.The Sound and the FuryWilliam Faulkner192921.57
7Mark as read.The Color PurpleAlice Walker198220.89
8Mark as read.The Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck193919.97
9Mark as read.Their Eyes Were Watching GodZora Neale Hurston193719.86
10Mark as read.The AmbassadorsHenry James190319.76
11Mark as read.The Golden BowlHenry James190419.40
12Mark as read.Gravity's RainbowThomas Pynchon197319.38
13Mark as read.The Bluest EyeToni Morrison197018.24
14Mark as read.JazzToni Morrison199218.17
15Mark as read.Light in AugustWilliam Faulkner193218.12
16Mark as read.The Wings of the DoveHenry James190217.97
17Mark as read.A Farewell to ArmsErnest Hemingway192917.93
18Mark as read.NeuromancerWilliam Gibson198417.66
19Mark as read.The House of MirthEdith Wharton190517.60
20Mark as read.LolitaVladimir Nabokov195517.50
21Mark as read.Sister CarrieTheodore Dreiser190017.31
22Mark as read.The Sun Also RisesErnest Hemingway192617.22
23Mark as read.As I Lay DyingWilliam Faulkner193016.93
24Mark as read.Song of SolomonToni Morrison197716.90
25Mark as read.ParadiseToni Morrison199716.89
26Mark as read.Go Down, MosesWilliam Faulkner194216.87
27Mark as read.The Old Man and the SeaErnest Hemingway195216.84
28Mark as read.On the RoadJack Kerouac195716.70
29Mark as read.All the King's MenRobert Penn Warren194616.70
30Mark as read.The Crying of Lot 49Thomas Pynchon196616.60
31Mark as read.Tender is the NightF. Scott Fitzgerald193416.28
32Mark as read.SulaToni Morrison197316.25
33Mark as read.Gone with the WindMargaret Mitchell193616.04
34Mark as read.White NoiseDon DeLillo198516.02
35Mark as read.The Age of InnocenceEdith Wharton192016.01
36Mark as read.To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee196015.98
37Mark as read.The Professor's HouseWilla Cather192515.91
38Mark as read.PassingNella Larsen192915.86
39Mark as read.The JungleUpton Sinclair190615.61
40Mark as read.In Our TimeErnest Hemingway192515.56
41Mark as read.The OctopusFrank Norris190115.47
42Mark as read.My AntoniaWilla Cather191815.46
43Mark as read.BabbittSinclair Lewis192215.45
44Mark as read.CaneJean Toomer192315.44
45Mark as read.Death Comes for the ArchbishopWilla Cather192715.41
46Mark as read.An American TragedyTheodore Dreiser192515.30
47Mark as read.The Catcher in the RyeJ. D. Salinger195114.86
48Mark as read.For Whom the Bell TollsErnest Hemingway194014.80
49Mark as read.Requiem for a NunWilliam Faulkner195114.79
50Mark as read.Slaughterhouse-FiveKurt Vonnegut196914.75
51Mark as read.HerzogSaul Bellow196414.64
52Mark as read.Look Homeward, AngelThomas Wolfe192914.46
53Mark as read.Winesburg, OhioSherwood Anderson191914.43
54Mark as read.The House on Mango StreetSandra Cisneros198414.40
55Mark as read.Main StreetSinclair Lewis192014.31
56Mark as read.Catch-22Joseph Heller196114.17
57Mark as read.The VirginianOwen Wister190214.09
58Mark as read.QuicksandNella Larsen192814.06
59Mark as read.Confessions of Nat TurnerWilliam Styron196713.99
60Mark as read.UnderworldDon DeLillo199713.95
61Mark as read.Autobiography of an Ex-Colored ManJames Weldon Johnson191213.81
62Mark as read.Sophie's ChoiceWilliam Styron197913.77
63Mark as read.The HamletWilliam Faulkner194013.69
64Mark as read.Go Tell It on the MountainJames Baldwin195313.69
65Mark as read.American PastoralPhilip Roth199713.68
66Mark as read.The Call of the WildJack London190313.63
67Mark as read.MeridianAlice Walker197613.55
68Mark as read.Portnoy's ComplaintPhilip Roth196913.53
69Mark as read.ArrowsmithSinclair Lewis192513.51
70Mark as read.This Side of ParadiseF. Scott Fitzgerald192013.50
71Mark as read.A FableWilliam Faulkner195513.48
72Mark as read.The Sacred FountHenry James190113.43
73Mark as read.The Making of AmericansGertrude Stein192513.42
74Mark as read.CeremonyLeslie Marmon Silko197713.35
75Mark as read.O Pioneers!Willa Cather191313.29
76Mark as read.The Bell JarSylvia Plath196313.25
77Mark as read.Miss LonelyheartsNathanael West193313.22
78Mark as read.Pale FireVladimir Nabokov196213.19
79Mark as read.Intruder in the DustWilliam Faulkner194813.01
80Mark as read.The Day of the LocustNathanael West193912.92
81Mark as read.The OutsiderRichard Wright195312.87
82Mark as read.The Song of the LarkWilla Cather191512.78
83Mark as read.Zen and the Art of Motorcycle MaintenanceRobert M. Pirsig197412.70
84Mark as read.Tropic of CancerHenry Miller193412.70
85Mark as read.The Beast in the JungleHenry James190312.70
86Mark as read.Tar BabyToni Morrison198112.69
87Mark as read.The Adventures of Augie MarchSaul Bellow195312.61
88Mark as read.The MoviegoerWalker Percy196112.56
89Mark as read.U.S.A.John Dos Passos193812.53
90Mark as read.Love MedicineLouise Erdrich198412.52
91Mark as read.Almanac of the DeadLeslie Marmon Silko199112.52
92Mark as read.Uncle Tom's ChildrenRichard Wright193812.48
93Mark as read.The PitFrank Norris190312.45
94Mark as read.House Made of DawnN. Scott Momaday196812.43
95Mark as read.Lost in the FunhouseJohn Barth196812.43
96Mark as read.Mumbo JumboIshmael Reed197212.28
97Mark as read.Another CountryJames Baldwin196212.26
98Mark as read.One of OursWilla Cather192212.26
99Mark as read.The Custom of the CountryEdith Wharton191312.17
100Mark as read.The Last TycoonF. Scott Fitzgerald194112.16
# Score
1Mark as read.Beloved (1987)
Toni Morrison
27.15
2Mark as read.Invisible Man (1952)
Ralph Ellison
26.15
3Mark as read.The Great Gatsby (1925)
F. Scott Fitzgerald
23.31
4Mark as read.Native Son (1940)
Richard Wright
22.25
5Mark as read.Absalom, Absalom! (1936)
William Faulkner
21.89
6Mark as read.The Sound and the Fury (1929)
William Faulkner
21.57
7Mark as read.The Color Purple (1982)
Alice Walker
20.89
8Mark as read.The Grapes of Wrath (1939)
John Steinbeck
19.97
9Mark as read.Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
Zora Neale Hurston
19.86
10Mark as read.The Ambassadors (1903)
Henry James
19.76
11Mark as read.The Golden Bowl (1904)
Henry James
19.40
12Mark as read.Gravity's Rainbow (1973)
Thomas Pynchon
19.38
13Mark as read.The Bluest Eye (1970)
Toni Morrison
18.24
14Mark as read.Jazz (1992)
Toni Morrison
18.17
15Mark as read.Light in August (1932)
William Faulkner
18.12
16Mark as read.The Wings of the Dove (1902)
Henry James
17.97
17Mark as read.A Farewell to Arms (1929)
Ernest Hemingway
17.93
18Mark as read.Neuromancer (1984)
William Gibson
17.66
19Mark as read.The House of Mirth (1905)
Edith Wharton
17.60
20Mark as read.Lolita (1955)
Vladimir Nabokov
17.50
21Mark as read.Sister Carrie (1900)
Theodore Dreiser
17.31
22Mark as read.The Sun Also Rises (1926)
Ernest Hemingway
17.22
23Mark as read.As I Lay Dying (1930)
William Faulkner
16.93
24Mark as read.Song of Solomon (1977)
Toni Morrison
16.90
25Mark as read.Paradise (1997)
Toni Morrison
16.89
26Mark as read.Go Down, Moses (1942)
William Faulkner
16.87
27Mark as read.The Old Man and the Sea (1952)
Ernest Hemingway
16.84
28Mark as read.On the Road (1957)
Jack Kerouac
16.70
29Mark as read.All the King's Men (1946)
Robert Penn Warren
16.70
30Mark as read.The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)
Thomas Pynchon
16.60
31Mark as read.Tender is the Night (1934)
F. Scott Fitzgerald
16.28
32Mark as read.Sula (1973)
Toni Morrison
16.25
33Mark as read.Gone with the Wind (1936)
Margaret Mitchell
16.04
34Mark as read.White Noise (1985)
Don DeLillo
16.02
35Mark as read.The Age of Innocence (1920)
Edith Wharton
16.01
36Mark as read.To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)
Harper Lee
15.98
37Mark as read.The Professor's House (1925)
Willa Cather
15.91
38Mark as read.Passing (1929)
Nella Larsen
15.86
39Mark as read.The Jungle (1906)
Upton Sinclair
15.61
40Mark as read.In Our Time (1925)
Ernest Hemingway
15.56
41Mark as read.The Octopus (1901)
Frank Norris
15.47
42Mark as read.My Antonia (1918)
Willa Cather
15.46
43Mark as read.Babbitt (1922)
Sinclair Lewis
15.45
44Mark as read.Cane (1923)
Jean Toomer
15.44
45Mark as read.Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927)
Willa Cather
15.41
46Mark as read.An American Tragedy (1925)
Theodore Dreiser
15.30
47Mark as read.The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
J. D. Salinger
14.86
48Mark as read.For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)
Ernest Hemingway
14.80
49Mark as read.Requiem for a Nun (1951)
William Faulkner
14.79
50Mark as read.Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)
Kurt Vonnegut
14.75
51Mark as read.Herzog (1964)
Saul Bellow
14.64
52Mark as read.Look Homeward, Angel (1929)
Thomas Wolfe
14.46
53Mark as read.Winesburg, Ohio (1919)
Sherwood Anderson
14.43
54Mark as read.The House on Mango Street (1984)
Sandra Cisneros
14.40
55Mark as read.Main Street (1920)
Sinclair Lewis
14.31
56Mark as read.Catch-22 (1961)
Joseph Heller
14.17
57Mark as read.The Virginian (1902)
Owen Wister
14.09
58Mark as read.Quicksand (1928)
Nella Larsen
14.06
59Mark as read.Confessions of Nat Turner (1967)
William Styron
13.99
60Mark as read.Underworld (1997)
Don DeLillo
13.95
61Mark as read.Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912)
James Weldon Johnson
13.81
62Mark as read.Sophie's Choice (1979)
William Styron
13.77
63Mark as read.The Hamlet (1940)
William Faulkner
13.69
64Mark as read.Go Tell It on the Mountain (1953)
James Baldwin
13.69
65Mark as read.American Pastoral (1997)
Philip Roth
13.68
66Mark as read.The Call of the Wild (1903)
Jack London
13.63
67Mark as read.Meridian (1976)
Alice Walker
13.55
68Mark as read.Portnoy's Complaint (1969)
Philip Roth
13.53
69Mark as read.Arrowsmith (1925)
Sinclair Lewis
13.51
70Mark as read.This Side of Paradise (1920)
F. Scott Fitzgerald
13.50
71Mark as read.A Fable (1955)
William Faulkner
13.48
72Mark as read.The Sacred Fount (1901)
Henry James
13.43
73Mark as read.The Making of Americans (1925)
Gertrude Stein
13.42
74Mark as read.Ceremony (1977)
Leslie Marmon Silko
13.35
75Mark as read.O Pioneers! (1913)
Willa Cather
13.29
76Mark as read.The Bell Jar (1963)
Sylvia Plath
13.25
77Mark as read.Miss Lonelyhearts (1933)
Nathanael West
13.22
78Mark as read.Pale Fire (1962)
Vladimir Nabokov
13.19
79Mark as read.Intruder in the Dust (1948)
William Faulkner
13.01
80Mark as read.The Day of the Locust (1939)
Nathanael West
12.92
81Mark as read.The Outsider (1953)
Richard Wright
12.87
82Mark as read.The Song of the Lark (1915)
Willa Cather
12.78
83Mark as read.Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974)
Robert M. Pirsig
12.70
84Mark as read.Tropic of Cancer (1934)
Henry Miller
12.70
85Mark as read.The Beast in the Jungle (1903)
Henry James
12.70
86Mark as read.Tar Baby (1981)
Toni Morrison
12.69
87Mark as read.The Adventures of Augie March (1953)
Saul Bellow
12.61
88Mark as read.The Moviegoer (1961)
Walker Percy
12.56
89Mark as read.U.S.A. (1938)
John Dos Passos
12.53
90Mark as read.Love Medicine (1984)
Louise Erdrich
12.52
91Mark as read.Almanac of the Dead (1991)
Leslie Marmon Silko
12.52
92Mark as read.Uncle Tom's Children (1938)
Richard Wright
12.48
93Mark as read.The Pit (1903)
Frank Norris
12.45
94Mark as read.House Made of Dawn (1968)
N. Scott Momaday
12.43
95Mark as read.Lost in the Funhouse (1968)
John Barth
12.43
96Mark as read.Mumbo Jumbo (1972)
Ishmael Reed
12.28
97Mark as read.Another Country (1962)
James Baldwin
12.26
98Mark as read.One of Ours (1922)
Willa Cather
12.26
99Mark as read.The Custom of the Country (1913)
Edith Wharton
12.17
100Mark as read.The Last Tycoon (1941)
F. Scott Fitzgerald
12.16

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N-gram Frequency Correction.

Titles consisting of words or phrases that are exceedingly common in the English language corpus (such as Stephen King's It or Joyce Carol Oates's them) tend to be overrepresented in search results, thus resulting in an articially inflated citation count. To counteract this tendency, Metacanon adjusts the scores for these works accordingly. Scores subjected to n-gram frequency correction are estimates only and are marked with an asterisk. N-gram freqencies are drawn from the Corpus of Contemporary American English, a project created by Mark Davies.


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Books by authors with a non-unique name (for example "Winston Churchill," the American novelist) tend to be overrepresented in search results, thus resulting in an articially inflated citation count. To counteract this tendency, Metacanon adjusts the scores for these works accordingly. Scores subjected to non-unique author correction are estimates only and are marked with a dagger.


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