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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 1800-2016

# Title Author Year Score
1Mark as read.Moby DickHerman Melville185130.54
2Mark as read.BelovedToni Morrison198727.15
3Mark as read.Invisible ManRalph Ellison195226.15
4Mark as read.Uncle Tom's CabinHarriet Beecher Stowe185225.96
5Mark as read.The Scarlet LetterNathaniel Hawthorne185025.11
6Mark as read.The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald192523.31
7Mark as read.The Portrait of a LadyHenry James188122.57
8Mark as read.Native SonRichard Wright194022.25
9Mark as read.Absalom, Absalom!William Faulkner193621.89
10Mark as read.Adventures of Huckleberry FinnMark Twain188421.73
11Mark as read.The Sound and the FuryWilliam Faulkner192921.57
12Mark as read.The Color PurpleAlice Walker198220.89
13Mark as read.Billy BuddHerman Melville189120.83
14Mark as read.The Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck193919.97
15Mark as read.Their Eyes Were Watching GodZora Neale Hurston193719.86
16Mark as read.The AmbassadorsHenry James190319.76
17Mark as read.TypeeHerman Melville184619.68
18Mark as read.The Golden BowlHenry James190419.40
19Mark as read.Gravity's RainbowThomas Pynchon197319.38
20Mark as read.The BostoniansHenry James188619.23
21Mark as read.Looking BackwardEdward Bellamy188819.12
22Mark as read.The Turn of the ScrewHenry James189819.02
23Mark as read.The Red Badge of CourageStephen Crane189518.98
24Mark as read.The House of the Seven GablesNathaniel Hawthorne185118.80
25Mark as read.A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's CourtMark Twain188918.54
26Mark as read.The AwakeningKate Chopin189918.39
27Mark as read.Pudd'nhead WilsonMark Twain189418.32
28Mark as read.The Bluest EyeToni Morrison197018.24
29Mark as read.JazzToni Morrison199218.17
30Mark as read.The AmericanHenry James187718.16
31Mark as read.Light in AugustWilliam Faulkner193218.12
32Mark as read.The Wings of the DoveHenry James190217.97
33Mark as read.A Farewell to ArmsErnest Hemingway192917.93
34Mark as read.NeuromancerWilliam Gibson198417.66
35Mark as read.The House of MirthEdith Wharton190517.60
36Mark as read.The Blithedale RomanceNathaniel Hawthorne185217.53
37Mark as read.LolitaVladimir Nabokov195517.50
38Mark as read.The Adventures of Tom SawyerMark Twain187617.46
39Mark as read.Little WomenLouisa May Alcott186917.36
40Mark as read.Sister CarrieTheodore Dreiser190017.31
41Mark as read.The Sun Also RisesErnest Hemingway192617.22
42Mark as read.As I Lay DyingWilliam Faulkner193016.93
43Mark as read.RedburnHerman Melville184916.91
44Mark as read.Song of SolomonToni Morrison197716.90
45Mark as read.ParadiseToni Morrison199716.89
46Mark as read.Go Down, MosesWilliam Faulkner194216.87
47Mark as read.The Old Man and the SeaErnest Hemingway195216.84
48Mark as read.MardiHerman Melville184916.80
49Mark as read.The Last of the MohicansJames Fenimore Cooper182616.80
50Mark as read.White-JacketHerman Melville185016.79
51Mark as read.The Marble FaunNathaniel Hawthorne186016.79
52Mark as read.On the RoadJack Kerouac195716.70
53Mark as read.All the King's MenRobert Penn Warren194616.70
54Mark as read.The Crying of Lot 49Thomas Pynchon196616.60
55Mark as read.ConfidenceHenry James187916.53
56Mark as read.The Princess CasamassimaHenry James188616.38
57Mark as read.Tender is the NightF. Scott Fitzgerald193416.28
58Mark as read.Daisy MillerHenry James187816.27
59Mark as read.SulaToni Morrison197316.25
60Mark as read.Gone with the WindMargaret Mitchell193616.04
61Mark as read.White NoiseDon DeLillo198516.02
62Mark as read.The Age of InnocenceEdith Wharton192016.01
63Mark as read.To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee196015.98
64Mark as read.The Professor's HouseWilla Cather192515.91
65Mark as read.Benito CerenoHerman Melville185515.90
66Mark as read.PassingNella Larsen192915.86
67Mark as read.The PioneersJames Fenimore Cooper182315.66
68Mark as read.The Confidence-ManHerman Melville185715.65
69Mark as read.The JungleUpton Sinclair190615.61
70Mark as read.ClotelWilliam Wells Brown185315.58
71Mark as read.In Our TimeErnest Hemingway192515.56
72Mark as read.The OctopusFrank Norris190115.47
73Mark as read.My AntoniaWilla Cather191815.46
74Mark as read.BabbittSinclair Lewis192215.45
75Mark as read.CaneJean Toomer192315.44
76Mark as read.Death Comes for the ArchbishopWilla Cather192715.41
77Mark as read.Washington SquareHenry James188015.35
78Mark as read.Twice-Told TalesNathaniel Hawthorne183715.31
79Mark as read.An American TragedyTheodore Dreiser192515.30
80Mark as read.What Maisie KnewHenry James189714.97
81Mark as read.The Rise of Silas LaphamWilliam Dean Howells188514.96
82Mark as read.The Catcher in the RyeJ. D. Salinger195114.86
83Mark as read.For Whom the Bell TollsErnest Hemingway194014.80
84Mark as read.Roderick HudsonHenry James187514.79
85Mark as read.Requiem for a NunWilliam Faulkner195114.79
86Mark as read.Slaughterhouse-FiveKurt Vonnegut196914.75
87Mark as read.DredHarriet Beecher Stowe185614.69
88Mark as read.HerzogSaul Bellow196414.64
89Mark as read.Look Homeward, AngelThomas Wolfe192914.46
90Mark as read.Winesburg, OhioSherwood Anderson191914.43
91Mark as read.McTeagueFrank Norris189914.40
92Mark as read.The House on Mango StreetSandra Cisneros198414.40
93Mark as read.Main StreetSinclair Lewis192014.31
94Mark as read.Catch-22Joseph Heller196114.17
95Mark as read.The Prince and the PauperMark Twain188114.13
96Mark as read.The VirginianOwen Wister190214.09
97Mark as read.A Hazard of New FortunesWilliam Dean Howells188914.07
98Mark as read.QuicksandNella Larsen192814.06
99Mark as read.Confessions of Nat TurnerWilliam Styron196713.99
100Mark as read.OmooHerman Melville184713.96
# Score
1Mark as read.Moby Dick (1851)
Herman Melville
30.54
2Mark as read.Beloved (1987)
Toni Morrison
27.15
3Mark as read.Invisible Man (1952)
Ralph Ellison
26.15
4Mark as read.Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852)
Harriet Beecher Stowe
25.96
5Mark as read.The Scarlet Letter (1850)
Nathaniel Hawthorne
25.11
6Mark as read.The Great Gatsby (1925)
F. Scott Fitzgerald
23.31
7Mark as read.The Portrait of a Lady (1881)
Henry James
22.57
8Mark as read.Native Son (1940)
Richard Wright
22.25
9Mark as read.Absalom, Absalom! (1936)
William Faulkner
21.89
10Mark as read.Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)
Mark Twain
21.73
11Mark as read.The Sound and the Fury (1929)
William Faulkner
21.57
12Mark as read.The Color Purple (1982)
Alice Walker
20.89
13Mark as read.Billy Budd (1891)
Herman Melville
20.83
14Mark as read.The Grapes of Wrath (1939)
John Steinbeck
19.97
15Mark as read.Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
Zora Neale Hurston
19.86
16Mark as read.The Ambassadors (1903)
Henry James
19.76
17Mark as read.Typee (1846)
Herman Melville
19.68
18Mark as read.The Golden Bowl (1904)
Henry James
19.40
19Mark as read.Gravity's Rainbow (1973)
Thomas Pynchon
19.38
20Mark as read.The Bostonians (1886)
Henry James
19.23
21Mark as read.Looking Backward (1888)
Edward Bellamy
19.12
22Mark as read.The Turn of the Screw (1898)
Henry James
19.02
23Mark as read.The Red Badge of Courage (1895)
Stephen Crane
18.98
24Mark as read.The House of the Seven Gables (1851)
Nathaniel Hawthorne
18.80
25Mark as read.A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)
Mark Twain
18.54
26Mark as read.The Awakening (1899)
Kate Chopin
18.39
27Mark as read.Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)
Mark Twain
18.32
28Mark as read.The Bluest Eye (1970)
Toni Morrison
18.24
29Mark as read.Jazz (1992)
Toni Morrison
18.17
30Mark as read.The American (1877)
Henry James
18.16
31Mark as read.Light in August (1932)
William Faulkner
18.12
32Mark as read.The Wings of the Dove (1902)
Henry James
17.97
33Mark as read.A Farewell to Arms (1929)
Ernest Hemingway
17.93
34Mark as read.Neuromancer (1984)
William Gibson
17.66
35Mark as read.The House of Mirth (1905)
Edith Wharton
17.60
36Mark as read.The Blithedale Romance (1852)
Nathaniel Hawthorne
17.53
37Mark as read.Lolita (1955)
Vladimir Nabokov
17.50
38Mark as read.The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876)
Mark Twain
17.46
39Mark as read.Little Women (1869)
Louisa May Alcott
17.36
40Mark as read.Sister Carrie (1900)
Theodore Dreiser
17.31
41Mark as read.The Sun Also Rises (1926)
Ernest Hemingway
17.22
42Mark as read.As I Lay Dying (1930)
William Faulkner
16.93
43Mark as read.Redburn (1849)
Herman Melville
16.91
44Mark as read.Song of Solomon (1977)
Toni Morrison
16.90
45Mark as read.Paradise (1997)
Toni Morrison
16.89
46Mark as read.Go Down, Moses (1942)
William Faulkner
16.87
47Mark as read.The Old Man and the Sea (1952)
Ernest Hemingway
16.84
48Mark as read.Mardi (1849)
Herman Melville
16.80
49Mark as read.The Last of the Mohicans (1826)
James Fenimore Cooper
16.80
50Mark as read.White-Jacket (1850)
Herman Melville
16.79
51Mark as read.The Marble Faun (1860)
Nathaniel Hawthorne
16.79
52Mark as read.On the Road (1957)
Jack Kerouac
16.70
53Mark as read.All the King's Men (1946)
Robert Penn Warren
16.70
54Mark as read.The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)
Thomas Pynchon
16.60
55Mark as read.Confidence (1879)
Henry James
16.53
56Mark as read.The Princess Casamassima (1886)
Henry James
16.38
57Mark as read.Tender is the Night (1934)
F. Scott Fitzgerald
16.28
58Mark as read.Daisy Miller (1878)
Henry James
16.27
59Mark as read.Sula (1973)
Toni Morrison
16.25
60Mark as read.Gone with the Wind (1936)
Margaret Mitchell
16.04
61Mark as read.White Noise (1985)
Don DeLillo
16.02
62Mark as read.The Age of Innocence (1920)
Edith Wharton
16.01
63Mark as read.To Kill a Mockingbird (1960)
Harper Lee
15.98
64Mark as read.The Professor's House (1925)
Willa Cather
15.91
65Mark as read.Benito Cereno (1855)
Herman Melville
15.90
66Mark as read.Passing (1929)
Nella Larsen
15.86
67Mark as read.The Pioneers (1823)
James Fenimore Cooper
15.66
68Mark as read.The Confidence-Man (1857)
Herman Melville
15.65
69Mark as read.The Jungle (1906)
Upton Sinclair
15.61
70Mark as read.Clotel (1853)
William Wells Brown
15.58
71Mark as read.In Our Time (1925)
Ernest Hemingway
15.56
72Mark as read.The Octopus (1901)
Frank Norris
15.47
73Mark as read.My Antonia (1918)
Willa Cather
15.46
74Mark as read.Babbitt (1922)
Sinclair Lewis
15.45
75Mark as read.Cane (1923)
Jean Toomer
15.44
76Mark as read.Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927)
Willa Cather
15.41
77Mark as read.Washington Square (1880)
Henry James
15.35
78Mark as read.Twice-Told Tales (1837)
Nathaniel Hawthorne
15.31
79Mark as read.An American Tragedy (1925)
Theodore Dreiser
15.30
80Mark as read.What Maisie Knew (1897)
Henry James
14.97
81Mark as read.The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885)
William Dean Howells
14.96
82Mark as read.The Catcher in the Rye (1951)
J. D. Salinger
14.86
83Mark as read.For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)
Ernest Hemingway
14.80
84Mark as read.Roderick Hudson (1875)
Henry James
14.79
85Mark as read.Requiem for a Nun (1951)
William Faulkner
14.79
86Mark as read.Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)
Kurt Vonnegut
14.75
87Mark as read.Dred (1856)
Harriet Beecher Stowe
14.69
88Mark as read.Herzog (1964)
Saul Bellow
14.64
89Mark as read.Look Homeward, Angel (1929)
Thomas Wolfe
14.46
90Mark as read.Winesburg, Ohio (1919)
Sherwood Anderson
14.43
91Mark as read.McTeague (1899)
Frank Norris
14.40
92Mark as read.The House on Mango Street (1984)
Sandra Cisneros
14.40
93Mark as read.Main Street (1920)
Sinclair Lewis
14.31
94Mark as read.Catch-22 (1961)
Joseph Heller
14.17
95Mark as read.The Prince and the Pauper (1881)
Mark Twain
14.13
96Mark as read.The Virginian (1902)
Owen Wister
14.09
97Mark as read.A Hazard of New Fortunes (1889)
William Dean Howells
14.07
98Mark as read.Quicksand (1928)
Nella Larsen
14.06
99Mark as read.Confessions of Nat Turner (1967)
William Styron
13.99
100Mark as read.Omoo (1847)
Herman Melville
13.96

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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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