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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.Zen and the Art of Motorcycle MaintenanceRobert M. Pirsig197412.70
2Mark as read.Something HappenedJoseph Heller19749.75
3Mark as read.YonnondioTillie Olsen19749.72
4Mark as read.The Dispossessed Ursula K. Le Guin19749.32
5Mark as read.Winter in the BloodJames Welch19749.30
6Mark as read.My Life as a ManPhilip Roth19747.95
7Mark as read.Dog SoldiersRobert Stone19747.23
8Mark as read.Look at the Harlequins!Vladimir Nabokov19747.16
9Mark as read.Enormous Changes at the Last MinuteGrace Paley19746.54
10Mark as read.The Killer AngelsMichael Shaara19746.46
11Mark as read.The Last Days of Louisiana RedIshmael Reed19746.19
12Mark as read.CentennialJames Michener19746.09
13Mark as read.The Milagro Beanfield WarJohn Nichols19746.06
14Mark as read.The Odd WomanGail Godwin19745.77
15Mark as read.Faith and the Good ThingCharles Johnson19745.68
16Mark as read.If Beale Street Could TalkJames Baldwin19745.35
17Mark as read.The Memory of Old JackWendell Berry19744.65
18Mark as read.The War Between the TatesAlison Lurie19744.53
19Mark as read.CarrieStephen King19744.53
20Mark as read.The Hawkline MonsterRichard Brautigan19744.48
21Mark as read.JawsPeter Benchley19744.44
22Mark as read.The Forever WarJoe Haldeman19743.59
23Mark as read.Little Tales of MisogynyPatricia Highsmith19743.22
24Mark as read.The 158-Pound MarriageJohn Irving19743.18
25Mark as read.Ripley's GamePatricia Highsmith19742.95
26Mark as read.KleinzeitRussell Hoban19742.66
27Mark as read.The Shadow KnowsDiane Johnson19742.60
28Mark as read.Marathon ManWilliam Goldman19742.52
29Mark as read.Daddy CoolDonald Goines19741.61
30Mark as read.Cogan's TradeGeorge V. Higgins19741.44
31Mark as read.Wait Until the EveningHal Bennett19740.95
# Score
1Mark as read.Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (1974)
Robert M. Pirsig
12.70
2Mark as read.Something Happened (1974)
Joseph Heller
9.75
3Mark as read.Yonnondio (1974)
Tillie Olsen
9.72
4Mark as read.The Dispossessed (1974)
Ursula K. Le Guin
9.32
5Mark as read.Winter in the Blood (1974)
James Welch
9.30
6Mark as read.My Life as a Man (1974)
Philip Roth
7.95
7Mark as read.Dog Soldiers (1974)
Robert Stone
7.23
8Mark as read.Look at the Harlequins! (1974)
Vladimir Nabokov
7.16
9Mark as read.Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974)
Grace Paley
6.54
10Mark as read.The Killer Angels (1974)
Michael Shaara
6.46
11Mark as read.The Last Days of Louisiana Red (1974)
Ishmael Reed
6.19
12Mark as read.Centennial (1974)
James Michener
6.09
13Mark as read.The Milagro Beanfield War (1974)
John Nichols
6.06
14Mark as read.The Odd Woman (1974)
Gail Godwin
5.77
15Mark as read.Faith and the Good Thing (1974)
Charles Johnson
5.68
16Mark as read.If Beale Street Could Talk (1974)
James Baldwin
5.35
17Mark as read.The Memory of Old Jack (1974)
Wendell Berry
4.65
18Mark as read.The War Between the Tates (1974)
Alison Lurie
4.53
19Mark as read.Carrie (1974)
Stephen King
4.53
20Mark as read.The Hawkline Monster (1974)
Richard Brautigan
4.48
21Mark as read.Jaws (1974)
Peter Benchley
4.44
22Mark as read.The Forever War (1974)
Joe Haldeman
3.59
23Mark as read.Little Tales of Misogyny (1974)
Patricia Highsmith
3.22
24Mark as read.The 158-Pound Marriage (1974)
John Irving
3.18
25Mark as read.Ripley's Game (1974)
Patricia Highsmith
2.95
26Mark as read.Kleinzeit (1974)
Russell Hoban
2.66
27Mark as read.The Shadow Knows (1974)
Diane Johnson
2.60
28Mark as read.Marathon Man (1974)
William Goldman
2.52
29Mark as read.Daddy Cool (1974)
Donald Goines
1.61
30Mark as read.Cogan's Trade (1974)
George V. Higgins
1.44
31Mark as read.Wait Until the Evening (1974)
Hal Bennett
0.95

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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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