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.


Include only works published between and .

Algorithm Modifications

Change the weight of these data points in order to change the shape of your canon.


      AMERICAN FICTION 1800-2020

      1Add to wishlist.Moby DickHerman Melville1851112.87
      2Add to wishlist.BelovedToni Morrison198794.10
      3Add to wishlist.Invisible ManRalph Ellison195291.60
      4Add to wishlist.The Scarlet LetterNathaniel Hawthorne185089.17
      5Add to wishlist.The Sound and the FuryWilliam Faulkner192983.25
      6Add to wishlist.Adventures of Huckleberry FinnMark Twain188482.82
      7Add to wishlist.The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald192582.10
      8Add to wishlist.The Portrait of a LadyHenry James188176.41
      9Add to wishlist.The AmericanHenry James187775.93*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      10Add to wishlist.Uncle Tom's CabinHarriet Beecher Stowe185274.99
      11Add to wishlist.Native SonRichard Wright194072.53
      12Add to wishlist.The AmbassadorsHenry James190368.82
      13Add to wishlist.ConfidenceHenry James187967.56*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      14Add to wishlist.The Golden BowlHenry James190467.11
      15Add to wishlist.Light in AugustWilliam Faulkner193265.94
      16Add to wishlist.The Turn of the ScrewHenry James189864.48
      17Add to wishlist.Their Eyes Were Watching GodZora Neale Hurston193762.41
      18Add to wishlist.As I Lay DyingWilliam Faulkner193061.28
      19Add to wishlist.Billy BuddHerman Melville189161.25
      20Add to wishlist.JazzToni Morrison199260.93
      21Add to wishlist.The Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck193960.84
      22Add to wishlist.Absalom, Absalom!William Faulkner193660.84
      23Add to wishlist.The Wings of the DoveHenry James190259.84
      24Add to wishlist.LolitaVladimir Nabokov195559.64
      25Add to wishlist.A Farewell to ArmsErnest Hemingway192959.39
      26Add to wishlist.NeuromancerWilliam Gibson198458.72
      27Add to wishlist.The Bluest EyeToni Morrison197058.59
      28Add to wishlist.The Color PurpleAlice Walker198258.48
      29Add to wishlist.The House of the Seven GablesNathaniel Hawthorne185157.94
      30Add to wishlist.The Sun Also RisesErnest Hemingway192657.82
      31Add to wishlist.Go Down, MosesWilliam Faulkner194257.26
      32Add to wishlist.The Red Badge of CourageStephen Crane189557.03
      33Add to wishlist.Sister CarrieTheodore Dreiser190056.47
      34Add to wishlist.The BostoniansHenry James188655.57
      35Add to wishlist.Gravity's RainbowThomas Pynchon197355.52
      36Add to wishlist.TypeeHerman Melville184655.44
      37Add to wishlist.The Confidence-ManHerman Melville185754.84
      38Add to wishlist.Pudd'nhead WilsonMark Twain189452.69
      39Add to wishlist.On the RoadJack Kerouac195752.48
      40Add to wishlist.The AwakeningKate Chopin189952.07
      41Add to wishlist.The Blithedale RomanceNathaniel Hawthorne185251.85
      42Add to wishlist.The Marble FaunNathaniel Hawthorne186051.63
      43Add to wishlist.Song of SolomonToni Morrison197750.79
      44Add to wishlist.The Adventures of Tom SawyerMark Twain187649.83
      45Add to wishlist.MardiHerman Melville184949.33
      46Add to wishlist.A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's CourtMark Twain188948.57
      47Add to wishlist.The House of MirthEdith Wharton190548.53
      48Add to wishlist.Requiem for a NunWilliam Faulkner195148.45
      49Add to wishlist.In Our TimeErnest Hemingway192548.25
      50Add to wishlist.The Old Man and the SeaErnest Hemingway195248.21
      51Add to wishlist.The Princess CasamassimaHenry James188648.17
      52Add to wishlist.Tender is the NightF. Scott Fitzgerald193447.72
      53Add to wishlist.The HamletWilliam Faulkner194047.51
      54Add to wishlist.Washington SquareHenry James188047.47
      55Add to wishlist.Daisy MillerHenry James187847.28
      56Add to wishlist.Looking BackwardEdward Bellamy188846.89
      57Add to wishlist.For Whom the Bell TollsErnest Hemingway194046.84
      58Add to wishlist.BabbittSinclair Lewis192246.02
      59Add to wishlist.My AntoniaWilla Cather191845.83
      60Add to wishlist.Little WomenLouisa May Alcott186945.68
      61Add to wishlist.SulaToni Morrison197344.56
      62Add to wishlist.White-JacketHerman Melville185044.56
      63Add to wishlist.Main StreetSinclair Lewis192044.43
      64Add to wishlist.ParadiseToni Morrison199744.05
      65Add to wishlist.All the King's MenRobert Penn Warren194643.98
      66Add to wishlist.The Crying of Lot 49Thomas Pynchon196643.88
      67Add to wishlist.CaneJean Toomer192343.76
      68Add to wishlist.Roderick HudsonHenry James187543.46
      69Add to wishlist.Benito CerenoHerman Melville185543.11
      70Add to wishlist.The Age of InnocenceEdith Wharton192042.95
      71Add to wishlist.RedburnHerman Melville184941.77
      72Add to wishlist.PassingNella Larsen192941.72
      73Add to wishlist.An American TragedyTheodore Dreiser192541.70
      74Add to wishlist.A FableWilliam Faulkner195541.35
      75Add to wishlist.The TownWilliam Faulkner195741.10*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      76Add to wishlist.Twice-Told TalesNathaniel Hawthorne183741.09
      77Add to wishlist.U.S.A.John Dos Passos193840.61
      78Add to wishlist.HerzogSaul Bellow196440.58
      79Add to wishlist.SartorisWilliam Faulkner192940.48
      80Add to wishlist.The Catcher in the RyeJ. D. Salinger195140.09
      81Add to wishlist.Death Comes for the ArchbishopWilla Cather192740.00
      82Add to wishlist.Winesburg, OhioSherwood Anderson191939.86
      83Add to wishlist.Wise BloodFlannery O'Connor195239.47
      84Add to wishlist.Look Homeward, AngelThomas Wolfe192939.44
      85Add to wishlist.Gone with the WindMargaret Mitchell193639.43
      86Add to wishlist.Intruder in the DustWilliam Faulkner194839.13
      87Add to wishlist.The OctopusFrank Norris190138.99
      88Add to wishlist.The Professor's HouseWilla Cather192538.91
      89Add to wishlist.Pale FireVladimir Nabokov196238.88
      90Add to wishlist.The Sacred FountHenry James190138.30
      91Add to wishlist.The Prince and the PauperMark Twain188138.29
      92Add to wishlist.The Tragic MuseHenry James189038.15
      93Add to wishlist.The JungleUpton Sinclair190637.81
      94Add to wishlist.CeremonyLeslie Marmon Silko197737.24*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      95Add to wishlist.OmooHerman Melville184736.96
      96Add to wishlist.What Maisie KnewHenry James189736.83
      97Add to wishlist.VThomas Pynchon196336.66*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      98Add to wishlist.McTeagueFrank Norris189936.66
      99Add to wishlist.Slaughterhouse-FiveKurt Vonnegut196936.60
      100Add to wishlist.The Beast in the JungleHenry James190336.53


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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.