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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

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










# Title Author Year Score
1Mark as read.Gravity's RainbowThomas Pynchon197319.38
2Mark as read.SulaToni Morrison197316.25
3Mark as read.The Great American NovelPhilip Roth19739.88
4Mark as read.Breakfast of ChampionsKurt Vonnegut19739.50
5Mark as read.Fear of FlyingErica Jong19738.58
6Mark as read.Great Jones StreetDon DeLillo19737.26
7Mark as read.BurrGore Vidal19736.64
8Mark as read.In Love and TroubleAlice Walker19736.64
9Mark as read.Child of GodCormac McCarthy19736.53
10Mark as read.Rubyfruit JungleRita Mae Brown19736.04
11Mark as read.The OathElie Wiesel19735.83
12Mark as read.The LynchersJohn Edgar Wideman19735.28
13Mark as read.There Is a Tree More Ancient Than EdenLeon Forrest19735.28
14Mark as read.The Princess BrideWilliam Goldman19735.19
15Mark as read.A Wind in the DoorMadeleine L'Engle19734.82
16Mark as read.Nickel MountainJohn Gardner19734.59
17Mark as read.A Russian BeautyVladimir Nabokov19734.25
18Mark as read.Searches and SeizuresStanley Elkin19733.50
19Mark as read.Ninety-Two in the ShadeThomas McGuane19733.33
20Mark as read.Beasts of the Southern WildDoris Betts19733.31
21Mark as read.Dance Hall of the DeadTony Hillerman19733.27
22Mark as read.Apostles of LightEllen Douglas19732.69
23Mark as read.The World of ApplesJohn Cheever19732.57
24Mark as read.South of No NorthCharles Bukowski19732.05
25Mark as read.The Tides of LustSamuel R. Delany19731.47
26Mark as read.Port of SaintsWilliam S. Burroughs19731.09
# Score
1Mark as read.Gravity's Rainbow (1973)
Thomas Pynchon
19.38
2Mark as read.Sula (1973)
Toni Morrison
16.25
3Mark as read.The Great American Novel (1973)
Philip Roth
9.88
4Mark as read.Breakfast of Champions (1973)
Kurt Vonnegut
9.50
5Mark as read.Fear of Flying (1973)
Erica Jong
8.58
6Mark as read.Great Jones Street (1973)
Don DeLillo
7.26
7Mark as read.Burr (1973)
Gore Vidal
6.64
8Mark as read.In Love and Trouble (1973)
Alice Walker
6.64
9Mark as read.Child of God (1973)
Cormac McCarthy
6.53
10Mark as read.Rubyfruit Jungle (1973)
Rita Mae Brown
6.04
11Mark as read.The Oath (1973)
Elie Wiesel
5.83
12Mark as read.The Lynchers (1973)
John Edgar Wideman
5.28
13Mark as read.There Is a Tree More Ancient Than Eden (1973)
Leon Forrest
5.28
14Mark as read.The Princess Bride (1973)
William Goldman
5.19
15Mark as read.A Wind in the Door (1973)
Madeleine L'Engle
4.82
16Mark as read.Nickel Mountain (1973)
John Gardner
4.59
17Mark as read.A Russian Beauty (1973)
Vladimir Nabokov
4.25
18Mark as read.Searches and Seizures (1973)
Stanley Elkin
3.50
19Mark as read.Ninety-Two in the Shade (1973)
Thomas McGuane
3.33
20Mark as read.Beasts of the Southern Wild (1973)
Doris Betts
3.31
21Mark as read.Dance Hall of the Dead (1973)
Tony Hillerman
3.27
22Mark as read.Apostles of Light (1973)
Ellen Douglas
2.69
23Mark as read.The World of Apples (1973)
John Cheever
2.57
24Mark as read.South of No North (1973)
Charles Bukowski
2.05
25Mark as read.The Tides of Lust (1973)
Samuel R. Delany
1.47
26Mark as read.Port of Saints (1973)
William S. Burroughs
1.09

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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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