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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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Althorithm Modifications

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# Title Author Year Score
1Mark as read.On the RoadJack Kerouac195716.70
2Mark as read.Atlas ShruggedAyn Rand195711.70
3Mark as read.A Death in the FamilyJames Agee195710.75
4Mark as read.The TownWilliam Faulkner195710.57
5Mark as read.PninVladimir Nabokov195710.53
6Mark as read.No-No BoyJohn Okada195710.16
7Mark as read.The AssistantBernard Malamud19579.25
8Mark as read.By Love PossessedJames Gould Cozzens19577.12
9Mark as read.The Wapshot ChronicleJohn Cheever19576.47
10Mark as read.Dandelion WineRay Bradbury19575.73
11Mark as read.The MisfitsArthur Miller19575.34
12Mark as read.The Long MarchWilliam Styron19575.25
13Mark as read.The Velvet HornAndrew Lytle19574.42
14Mark as read.Love Among the CannibalsWright Morris19574.33
15Mark as read.Simple Stakes a ClaimLangston Hughes19573.89
16Mark as read.Some Came RunningJames Jones19573.23
17Mark as read.The Door into SummerRobert Heinlein19573.21
18Mark as read.Something About a SoldierMark Harris19572.43
19Mark as read.Citzen of the GalaxyRobert Heinlein19571.83
20Mark as read.Letter from PekingPearl S. Buck19571.20
21Mark as read.Falcons of NarabedlaMarion Zimmer Bradley19570.77
# Score
1Mark as read.On the Road (1957)
Jack Kerouac
16.70
2Mark as read.Atlas Shrugged (1957)
Ayn Rand
11.70
3Mark as read.A Death in the Family (1957)
James Agee
10.75
4Mark as read.The Town (1957)
William Faulkner
10.57
5Mark as read.Pnin (1957)
Vladimir Nabokov
10.53
6Mark as read.No-No Boy (1957)
John Okada
10.16
7Mark as read.The Assistant (1957)
Bernard Malamud
9.25
8Mark as read.By Love Possessed (1957)
James Gould Cozzens
7.12
9Mark as read.The Wapshot Chronicle (1957)
John Cheever
6.47
10Mark as read.Dandelion Wine (1957)
Ray Bradbury
5.73
11Mark as read.The Misfits (1957)
Arthur Miller
5.34
12Mark as read.The Long March (1957)
William Styron
5.25
13Mark as read.The Velvet Horn (1957)
Andrew Lytle
4.42
14Mark as read.Love Among the Cannibals (1957)
Wright Morris
4.33
15Mark as read.Simple Stakes a Claim (1957)
Langston Hughes
3.89
16Mark as read.Some Came Running (1957)
James Jones
3.23
17Mark as read.The Door into Summer (1957)
Robert Heinlein
3.21
18Mark as read.Something About a Soldier (1957)
Mark Harris
2.43
19Mark as read.Citzen of the Galaxy (1957)
Robert Heinlein
1.83
20Mark as read.Letter from Peking (1957)
Pearl S. Buck
1.20
21Mark as read.Falcons of Narabedla (1957)
Marion Zimmer Bradley
0.77

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Include only:


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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