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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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# Title Author Year Score
1Mark as read.The Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck193919.97
2Mark as read.The Day of the LocustNathanael West193912.92
3Mark as read.The Wild PalmsWilliam Faulkner193910.95
4Mark as read.The Big SleepRaymond Chandler193910.83
5Mark as read.The Web and the RockThomas Wolfe19399.95
6Mark as read.Moses, Man of the MountainZora Neale Hurston19399.70
7Mark as read.Pale Horse, Pale RiderKatherine Anne Porter19398.02
8Mark as read.Christ in ConcretePietro di Donato19397.44
9Mark as read.Goodbye to BerlinChristopher Isherwood19397.16
10Mark as read.Tropic of CapricornHenry Miller19396.75
11Mark as read.Night RiderRobert Penn Warren19396.51
12Mark as read.Adventures of a Young ManJohn Dos Passos19395.59
13Mark as read.The NazareneSholem Asch19395.13
14Mark as read.Ask the DustJohn Fante19394.42
15Mark as read.Kitty FoyleChristopher Morley19394.24
16Mark as read.Children of GodVardis Fisher19393.23
17Mark as read.A Heart for the Gods of MexicoConrad Aiken19393.22
18Mark as read.Let Me Breathe ThunderWilliam Attaway19392.28
19Mark as read.Star Spangled VirginDuBose Heyward19390.82
# Score
1Mark as read.The Grapes of Wrath (1939)
John Steinbeck
19.97
2Mark as read.The Day of the Locust (1939)
Nathanael West
12.92
3Mark as read.The Wild Palms (1939)
William Faulkner
10.95
4Mark as read.The Big Sleep (1939)
Raymond Chandler
10.83
5Mark as read.The Web and the Rock (1939)
Thomas Wolfe
9.95
6Mark as read.Moses, Man of the Mountain (1939)
Zora Neale Hurston
9.70
7Mark as read.Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939)
Katherine Anne Porter
8.02
8Mark as read.Christ in Concrete (1939)
Pietro di Donato
7.44
9Mark as read.Goodbye to Berlin (1939)
Christopher Isherwood
7.16
10Mark as read.Tropic of Capricorn (1939)
Henry Miller
6.75
11Mark as read.Night Rider (1939)
Robert Penn Warren
6.51
12Mark as read.Adventures of a Young Man (1939)
John Dos Passos
5.59
13Mark as read.The Nazarene (1939)
Sholem Asch
5.13
14Mark as read.Ask the Dust (1939)
John Fante
4.42
15Mark as read.Kitty Foyle (1939)
Christopher Morley
4.24
16Mark as read.Children of God (1939)
Vardis Fisher
3.23
17Mark as read.A Heart for the Gods of Mexico (1939)
Conrad Aiken
3.22
18Mark as read.Let Me Breathe Thunder (1939)
William Attaway
2.28
19Mark as read.Star Spangled Virgin (1939)
DuBose Heyward
0.82

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Include only works published between and .

Althorithm Modifications

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








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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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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 dagger.


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