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 1900-1999

      1Add to wishlist.BelovedToni Morrison198794.10
      2Add to wishlist.Invisible ManRalph Ellison195291.60
      3Add to wishlist.The Sound and the FuryWilliam Faulkner192983.25
      4Add to wishlist.The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald192582.10
      5Add to wishlist.Native SonRichard Wright194072.53
      6Add to wishlist.The AmbassadorsHenry James190368.82
      7Add to wishlist.The Golden BowlHenry James190467.11
      8Add to wishlist.Light in AugustWilliam Faulkner193265.94
      9Add to wishlist.Their Eyes Were Watching GodZora Neale Hurston193762.41
      10Add to wishlist.As I Lay DyingWilliam Faulkner193061.28
      11Add to wishlist.JazzToni Morrison199260.93
      12Add to wishlist.The Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck193960.84
      13Add to wishlist.Absalom, Absalom!William Faulkner193660.84
      14Add to wishlist.The Wings of the DoveHenry James190259.84
      15Add to wishlist.LolitaVladimir Nabokov195559.64
      16Add to wishlist.A Farewell to ArmsErnest Hemingway192959.39
      17Add to wishlist.NeuromancerWilliam Gibson198458.72
      18Add to wishlist.The Bluest EyeToni Morrison197058.59
      19Add to wishlist.The Color PurpleAlice Walker198258.48
      20Add to wishlist.The Sun Also RisesErnest Hemingway192657.82
      21Add to wishlist.Go Down, MosesWilliam Faulkner194257.26
      22Add to wishlist.Sister CarrieTheodore Dreiser190056.47
      23Add to wishlist.Gravity's RainbowThomas Pynchon197355.52
      24Add to wishlist.On the RoadJack Kerouac195752.48
      25Add to wishlist.Song of SolomonToni Morrison197750.79
      26Add to wishlist.The House of MirthEdith Wharton190548.53
      27Add to wishlist.Requiem for a NunWilliam Faulkner195148.45
      28Add to wishlist.In Our TimeErnest Hemingway192548.25
      29Add to wishlist.The Old Man and the SeaErnest Hemingway195248.21
      30Add to wishlist.Tender is the NightF. Scott Fitzgerald193447.72
      31Add to wishlist.The HamletWilliam Faulkner194047.51
      32Add to wishlist.For Whom the Bell TollsErnest Hemingway194046.84
      33Add to wishlist.BabbittSinclair Lewis192246.02
      34Add to wishlist.My AntoniaWilla Cather191845.83
      35Add to wishlist.SulaToni Morrison197344.56
      36Add to wishlist.Main StreetSinclair Lewis192044.43
      37Add to wishlist.ParadiseToni Morrison199744.05
      38Add to wishlist.All the King's MenRobert Penn Warren194643.98
      39Add to wishlist.The Crying of Lot 49Thomas Pynchon196643.88
      40Add to wishlist.CaneJean Toomer192343.76
      41Add to wishlist.The Age of InnocenceEdith Wharton192042.95
      42Add to wishlist.PassingNella Larsen192941.72
      43Add to wishlist.An American TragedyTheodore Dreiser192541.70
      44Add to wishlist.A FableWilliam Faulkner195541.35
      45Add to wishlist.The TownWilliam Faulkner195741.10*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      46Add to wishlist.U.S.A.John Dos Passos193840.61
      47Add to wishlist.HerzogSaul Bellow196440.58
      48Add to wishlist.SartorisWilliam Faulkner192940.48
      49Add to wishlist.The Catcher in the RyeJ. D. Salinger195140.09
      50Add to wishlist.Death Comes for the ArchbishopWilla Cather192740.00
      51Add to wishlist.Winesburg, OhioSherwood Anderson191939.86
      52Add to wishlist.Wise BloodFlannery O'Connor195239.47
      53Add to wishlist.Look Homeward, AngelThomas Wolfe192939.44
      54Add to wishlist.Gone with the WindMargaret Mitchell193639.43
      55Add to wishlist.Intruder in the DustWilliam Faulkner194839.13
      56Add to wishlist.The OctopusFrank Norris190138.99
      57Add to wishlist.The Professor's HouseWilla Cather192538.91
      58Add to wishlist.Pale FireVladimir Nabokov196238.88
      59Add to wishlist.The Sacred FountHenry James190138.30
      60Add to wishlist.The JungleUpton Sinclair190637.81
      61Add to wishlist.CeremonyLeslie Marmon Silko197737.24*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      62Add to wishlist.VThomas Pynchon196336.66*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      63Add to wishlist.Slaughterhouse-FiveKurt Vonnegut196936.60
      64Add to wishlist.The Beast in the JungleHenry James190336.53
      65Add to wishlist.White NoiseDon DeLillo198536.23
      66Add to wishlist.Go Tell It on the MountainJames Baldwin195335.92
      67Add to wishlist.The Wild PalmsWilliam Faulkner193935.81
      68Add to wishlist.A Good Man Is Hard to FindFlannery O'Connor195535.74
      69Add to wishlist.This Side of ParadiseF. Scott Fitzgerald192035.32
      70Add to wishlist.QuicksandNella Larsen192835.31
      71Add to wishlist.The House on Mango StreetSandra Cisneros198435.28
      72Add to wishlist.The UnvanquishedWilliam Faulkner193835.02
      73Add to wishlist.O Pioneers!Willa Cather191334.93
      74Add to wishlist.The MansionWilliam Faulkner195934.77
      75Add to wishlist.To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee196034.75
      76Add to wishlist.The Making of AmericansGertrude Stein192534.55
      77Add to wishlist.The Bell JarSylvia Plath196334.34
      78Add to wishlist.LETTERSJohn Barth197934.32*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      79Add to wishlist.Tropic of CancerHenry Miller193434.23
      80Add to wishlist.Tar BabyToni Morrison198134.15
      81Add to wishlist.NightwoodDjuna Barnes193634.04
      82Add to wishlist.Portnoy's ComplaintPhilip Roth196933.93
      83Add to wishlist.Zen and the Art of Motorcycle MaintenanceRobert M. Pirsig197433.90
      84Add to wishlist.VirginiaEllen Glasgow191333.86*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      85Add to wishlist.MeridianAlice Walker197633.79
      86Add to wishlist.The Violent Bear It AwayFlannery O'Connor196033.54
      87Add to wishlist.The OutsiderRichard Wright195333.36
      88Add to wishlist.Ethan FromeEdith Wharton191133.04
      89Add to wishlist.Another CountryJames Baldwin196232.94
      90Add to wishlist.Autobiography of an Ex-Colored ManJames Weldon Johnson191232.91
      91Add to wishlist.Three LivesGertrude Stein190932.53
      92Add to wishlist.Of Mice and MenJohn Steinbeck193732.46
      93Add to wishlist.The Song of the LarkWilla Cather191532.42
      94Add to wishlist.House Made of DawnN. Scott Momaday196832.32
      95Add to wishlist.UnderworldDon DeLillo199732.18
      96Add to wishlist.Catch-22Joseph Heller196132.14
      97Add to wishlist.The Call of the WildJack London190332.11
      98Add to wishlist.Soldier's PayWilliam Faulkner192631.85
      99Add to wishlist.A Lost LadyWilla Cather192331.83
      100Add to wishlist.American PastoralPhilip Roth199731.74


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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.