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 0.9 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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Algorithm Modifications

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      AMERICAN FICTION 1800-2019

      1Add to wishlist.Moby DickHerman Melville1851111.59
      2Add to wishlist.BelovedToni Morrison198793.72
      3Add to wishlist.Invisible ManRalph Ellison195291.32
      4Add to wishlist.The Scarlet LetterNathaniel Hawthorne185089.17
      5Add to wishlist.The AmericanHenry James187775.93*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      6Add to wishlist.Uncle Tom's CabinHarriet Beecher Stowe185274.99
      7Add to wishlist.The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald192574.84
      8Add to wishlist.The Portrait of a LadyHenry James188174.52
      9Add to wishlist.Native SonRichard Wright194072.53
      10Add to wishlist.The Sound and the FuryWilliam Faulkner192969.27
      11Add to wishlist.ConfidenceHenry James187967.56*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      12Add to wishlist.Absalom, Absalom!William Faulkner193666.90
      13Add to wishlist.The AmbassadorsHenry James190365.00
      14Add to wishlist.The Turn of the ScrewHenry James189864.10
      15Add to wishlist.Adventures of Huckleberry FinnMark Twain188463.57
      16Add to wishlist.The Golden BowlHenry James190462.61
      17Add to wishlist.Billy BuddHerman Melville189159.18
      18Add to wishlist.Looking BackwardEdward Bellamy188858.36
      19Add to wishlist.The Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck193956.81
      20Add to wishlist.The Wings of the DoveHenry James190256.74
      21Add to wishlist.The Red Badge of CourageStephen Crane189556.40
      22Add to wishlist.The BostoniansHenry James188656.36
      23Add to wishlist.Their Eyes Were Watching GodZora Neale Hurston193755.82
      24Add to wishlist.TypeeHerman Melville184655.13
      25Add to wishlist.JazzToni Morrison199254.74
      26Add to wishlist.The Color PurpleAlice Walker198254.72
      27Add to wishlist.The Bluest EyeToni Morrison197054.41
      28Add to wishlist.A Farewell to ArmsErnest Hemingway192953.27
      29Add to wishlist.Light in AugustWilliam Faulkner193252.96
      30Add to wishlist.Pudd'nhead WilsonMark Twain189452.55
      31Add to wishlist.LolitaVladimir Nabokov195552.18
      32Add to wishlist.The House of the Seven GablesNathaniel Hawthorne185151.76
      33Add to wishlist.The Adventures of Tom SawyerMark Twain187650.77
      34Add to wishlist.The AwakeningKate Chopin189950.52
      35Add to wishlist.A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's CourtMark Twain188949.52
      36Add to wishlist.Washington SquareHenry James188047.23
      37Add to wishlist.NeuromancerWilliam Gibson198447.10
      38Add to wishlist.Daisy MillerHenry James187846.82
      39Add to wishlist.The House of MirthEdith Wharton190546.76
      40Add to wishlist.Gravity's RainbowThomas Pynchon197346.75
      41Add to wishlist.ParadiseToni Morrison199746.74
      42Add to wishlist.The Sun Also RisesErnest Hemingway192646.14
      43Add to wishlist.MardiHerman Melville184946.00
      44Add to wishlist.As I Lay DyingWilliam Faulkner193045.80
      45Add to wishlist.The Blithedale RomanceNathaniel Hawthorne185245.42
      46Add to wishlist.The Princess CasamassimaHenry James188645.38
      47Add to wishlist.The Marble FaunNathaniel Hawthorne186045.33
      48Add to wishlist.Little WomenLouisa May Alcott186944.87
      49Add to wishlist.Sister CarrieTheodore Dreiser190044.54
      50Add to wishlist.The Confidence-ManHerman Melville185744.24
      51Add to wishlist.Go Down, MosesWilliam Faulkner194243.90
      52Add to wishlist.White-JacketHerman Melville185043.75
      53Add to wishlist.On the RoadJack Kerouac195742.84
      54Add to wishlist.The Last of the MohicansJames Fenimore Cooper182642.79
      55Add to wishlist.My AntoniaWilla Cather191842.76
      56Add to wishlist.Song of SolomonToni Morrison197742.64
      57Add to wishlist.What Maisie KnewHenry James189742.40
      58Add to wishlist.RedburnHerman Melville184942.32
      59Add to wishlist.Roderick HudsonHenry James187542.15
      60Add to wishlist.The PioneersJames Fenimore Cooper182340.88
      61Add to wishlist.In Our TimeErnest Hemingway192540.85
      62Add to wishlist.Tender is the NightF. Scott Fitzgerald193440.78
      63Add to wishlist.Benito CerenoHerman Melville185540.62
      64Add to wishlist.DredHarriet Beecher Stowe185640.24
      65Add to wishlist.SulaToni Morrison197340.20
      66Add to wishlist.The Age of InnocenceEdith Wharton192040.01
      67Add to wishlist.BabbittSinclair Lewis192239.78
      68Add to wishlist.The Crying of Lot 49Thomas Pynchon196639.72
      69Add to wishlist.All the King's MenRobert Penn Warren194638.67
      70Add to wishlist.For Whom the Bell TollsErnest Hemingway194038.55
      71Add to wishlist.Twice-Told TalesNathaniel Hawthorne183738.41
      72Add to wishlist.Look Homeward, AngelThomas Wolfe192938.41
      73Add to wishlist.Death Comes for the ArchbishopWilla Cather192738.30
      74Add to wishlist.The Prince and the PauperMark Twain188138.14
      75Add to wishlist.The Tragic MuseHenry James189037.85
      76Add to wishlist.The Old Man and the SeaErnest Hemingway195237.72
      77Add to wishlist.The EuropeansHenry James187837.70
      78Add to wishlist.The Professor's HouseWilla Cather192537.57
      79Add to wishlist.CaneJean Toomer192337.36
      80Add to wishlist.The Sacred FountHenry James190137.30
      81Add to wishlist.Main StreetSinclair Lewis192037.25
      82Add to wishlist.PassingNella Larsen192937.13
      83Add to wishlist.HerzogSaul Bellow196437.06
      84Add to wishlist.OmooHerman Melville184736.96
      85Add to wishlist.An American TragedyTheodore Dreiser192536.68
      86Add to wishlist.The OctopusFrank Norris190136.66
      87Add to wishlist.The HamletWilliam Faulkner194036.54
      88Add to wishlist.McTeagueFrank Norris189936.34
      89Add to wishlist.The Rise of Silas LaphamWilliam Dean Howells188536.31
      90Add to wishlist.The VirginianOwen Wister190236.05
      91Add to wishlist.The JungleUpton Sinclair190635.93
      92Add to wishlist.The PrairieJames Fenimore Cooper182735.83
      93Add to wishlist.The Spoils of PoyntonHenry James189735.61
      94Add to wishlist.U.S.A.John Dos Passos193835.48
      95Add to wishlist.The Catcher in the RyeJ. D. Salinger195135.44
      96Add to wishlist.ClotelWilliam Wells Brown185335.28
      97Add to wishlist.A Hazard of New FortunesWilliam Dean Howells188934.43
      98Add to wishlist.Winesburg, OhioSherwood Anderson191934.34
      99Add to wishlist.CeremonyLeslie Marmon Silko197734.29*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      100Add to wishlist.Requiem for a NunWilliam Faulkner195134.17


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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.

          We apply a slightly different n-gram frequency correction to New York Times citation counts. These are marked with a dagger, where applicable.


          Non-unique author Correction.

          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 double dagger.