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 Morrison198793.72
      2Add to wishlist.Invisible ManRalph Ellison195291.32
      3Add to wishlist.The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald192574.84
      4Add to wishlist.Native SonRichard Wright194072.53
      5Add to wishlist.The Sound and the FuryWilliam Faulkner192969.27
      6Add to wishlist.Absalom, Absalom!William Faulkner193666.90
      7Add to wishlist.The AmbassadorsHenry James190365.00
      8Add to wishlist.The Golden BowlHenry James190462.61
      9Add to wishlist.The Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck193956.81
      10Add to wishlist.The Wings of the DoveHenry James190256.74
      11Add to wishlist.Their Eyes Were Watching GodZora Neale Hurston193755.82
      12Add to wishlist.JazzToni Morrison199254.74
      13Add to wishlist.The Color PurpleAlice Walker198254.72
      14Add to wishlist.The Bluest EyeToni Morrison197054.41
      15Add to wishlist.A Farewell to ArmsErnest Hemingway192953.27
      16Add to wishlist.Light in AugustWilliam Faulkner193252.96
      17Add to wishlist.LolitaVladimir Nabokov195552.18
      18Add to wishlist.NeuromancerWilliam Gibson198447.10
      19Add to wishlist.The House of MirthEdith Wharton190546.76
      20Add to wishlist.Gravity's RainbowThomas Pynchon197346.75
      21Add to wishlist.ParadiseToni Morrison199746.74
      22Add to wishlist.The Sun Also RisesErnest Hemingway192646.14
      23Add to wishlist.As I Lay DyingWilliam Faulkner193045.80
      24Add to wishlist.Sister CarrieTheodore Dreiser190044.54
      25Add to wishlist.Go Down, MosesWilliam Faulkner194243.90
      26Add to wishlist.On the RoadJack Kerouac195742.84
      27Add to wishlist.My AntoniaWilla Cather191842.76
      28Add to wishlist.Song of SolomonToni Morrison197742.64
      29Add to wishlist.In Our TimeErnest Hemingway192540.85
      30Add to wishlist.Tender is the NightF. Scott Fitzgerald193440.78
      31Add to wishlist.SulaToni Morrison197340.20
      32Add to wishlist.The Age of InnocenceEdith Wharton192040.01
      33Add to wishlist.BabbittSinclair Lewis192239.78
      34Add to wishlist.The Crying of Lot 49Thomas Pynchon196639.72
      35Add to wishlist.All the King's MenRobert Penn Warren194638.67
      36Add to wishlist.For Whom the Bell TollsErnest Hemingway194038.55
      37Add to wishlist.Look Homeward, AngelThomas Wolfe192938.41
      38Add to wishlist.Death Comes for the ArchbishopWilla Cather192738.30
      39Add to wishlist.The Old Man and the SeaErnest Hemingway195237.72
      40Add to wishlist.The Professor's HouseWilla Cather192537.57
      41Add to wishlist.CaneJean Toomer192337.36
      42Add to wishlist.The Sacred FountHenry James190137.30
      43Add to wishlist.Main StreetSinclair Lewis192037.25
      44Add to wishlist.PassingNella Larsen192937.13
      45Add to wishlist.HerzogSaul Bellow196437.06
      46Add to wishlist.An American TragedyTheodore Dreiser192536.68
      47Add to wishlist.The OctopusFrank Norris190136.66
      48Add to wishlist.The HamletWilliam Faulkner194036.54
      49Add to wishlist.The VirginianOwen Wister190236.05
      50Add to wishlist.The JungleUpton Sinclair190635.93
      51Add to wishlist.U.S.A.John Dos Passos193835.48
      52Add to wishlist.The Catcher in the RyeJ. D. Salinger195135.44
      53Add to wishlist.Winesburg, OhioSherwood Anderson191934.34
      54Add to wishlist.CeremonyLeslie Marmon Silko197734.29*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      55Add to wishlist.Requiem for a NunWilliam Faulkner195134.17
      56Add to wishlist.The Beast in the JungleHenry James190333.92
      57Add to wishlist.Gone with the WindMargaret Mitchell193633.87
      58Add to wishlist.Pale FireVladimir Nabokov196233.68
      59Add to wishlist.Slaughterhouse-FiveKurt Vonnegut196933.65
      60Add to wishlist.The House on Mango StreetSandra Cisneros198432.83
      61Add to wishlist.O Pioneers!Willa Cather191332.63
      62Add to wishlist.The TownWilliam Faulkner195732.48*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      63Add to wishlist.To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee196032.47
      64Add to wishlist.The OutsiderRichard Wright195332.44
      65Add to wishlist.White NoiseDon DeLillo198532.38
      66Add to wishlist.This Side of ParadiseF. Scott Fitzgerald192032.31
      67Add to wishlist.Catch-22Joseph Heller196132.05
      68Add to wishlist.SartorisWilliam Faulkner192931.94
      69Add to wishlist.Zen and the Art of Motorcycle MaintenanceRobert M. Pirsig197431.84
      70Add to wishlist.VThomas Pynchon196331.71*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      71Add to wishlist.Portnoy's ComplaintPhilip Roth196931.61
      72Add to wishlist.The Bell JarSylvia Plath196331.54
      73Add to wishlist.LETTERSJohn Barth197931.42*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      74Add to wishlist.Ethan FromeEdith Wharton191131.35
      75Add to wishlist.Go Tell It on the MountainJames Baldwin195331.27
      76Add to wishlist.A FableWilliam Faulkner195531.23
      77Add to wishlist.QuicksandNella Larsen192831.18
      78Add to wishlist.MeridianAlice Walker197631.10
      79Add to wishlist.The Making of AmericansGertrude Stein192531.06
      80Add to wishlist.Tropic of CancerHenry Miller193430.56
      81Add to wishlist.Intruder in the DustWilliam Faulkner194830.46
      82Add to wishlist.The Song of the LarkWilla Cather191530.33
      83Add to wishlist.The Custom of the CountryEdith Wharton191330.33
      84Add to wishlist.The Call of the WildJack London190330.27
      85Add to wishlist.FoundationIsaac Asimov195130.22*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      86Add to wishlist.Tar BabyToni Morrison198130.17
      87Add to wishlist.NightwoodDjuna Barnes193630.11
      88Add to wishlist.You Can't Go Home AgainThomas Wolfe194030.11
      89Add to wishlist.House Made of DawnN. Scott Momaday196829.83
      90Add to wishlist.A Lost LadyWilla Cather192329.59
      91Add to wishlist.Atlas ShruggedAyn Rand195729.49
      92Add to wishlist.Three LivesGertrude Stein190929.42
      93Add to wishlist.Of Mice and MenJohn Steinbeck193729.36
      94Add to wishlist.GhostsEdith Wharton193729.31
      95Add to wishlist.Wise BloodFlannery O'Connor195229.28
      96Add to wishlist.American PastoralPhilip Roth199729.06
      97Add to wishlist.Autobiography of an Ex-Colored ManJames Weldon Johnson191229.03
      98Add to wishlist.UnderworldDon DeLillo199728.84
      99Add to wishlist.VirginiaEllen Glasgow191328.82*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      100Add to wishlist.FocusArthur Miller194528.52*Corpus frequency correction applied.


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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.