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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.Song of SolomonToni Morrison197716.90
2Mark as read.CeremonyLeslie Marmon Silko197713.35
3Mark as read.The Public BurningRobert Coover19778.92
4Mark as read.PlayersDon DeLillo19778.87
5Mark as read.LancelotWalker Percy19778.36
6Mark as read.The Professor of DesirePhilip Roth19778.36
7Mark as read.Johnny Panic and the Bible of DreamsSylvia Plath19777.01
8Mark as read.IllusionsRichard Bach19776.48
9Mark as read.FalconerJohn Cheever19776.01
10Mark as read.A Scanner DarklyPhilip K. Dick19776.01
11Mark as read.A Place to Come toRobert Penn Warren19775.75
12Mark as read.The ShiningStephen King19775.74
13Mark as read.Elbow RoomJames Alan McPherson19774.78
14Mark as read.A Book of Common PrayerJoan Didion19774.66
15Mark as read.The Women's RoomMarilyn French19774.37
16Mark as read.How to Save Your Own LifeErica Jong19774.22
17Mark as read.Furious SeasonsRaymond Carver19774.20
18Mark as read.Mind of My MindOctavia Butler19773.79
19Mark as read.Blood TieMary Lee Settle19773.67
20Mark as read.The Sea Birds Are Still AliveToni Cade Bambara19773.59
21Mark as read.I, etceteraSusan Sontag19773.30
22Mark as read.A Summer to DieLois Lowry19773.28
23Mark as read.True ConfessionsJohn Gregory Dunne19772.98
24Mark as read.ComaRobin Cook19772.63
25Mark as read.Edith's DiaryPatricia Highsmith19772.37
26Mark as read.White RatGayl Jones19772.30
27Mark as read.Madder MusicPeter De Vries19771.32
28Mark as read.Sportscar MenopausePage Stegner19770.71
# Score
1Mark as read.Song of Solomon (1977)
Toni Morrison
16.90
2Mark as read.Ceremony (1977)
Leslie Marmon Silko
13.35
3Mark as read.The Public Burning (1977)
Robert Coover
8.92
4Mark as read.Players (1977)
Don DeLillo
8.87
5Mark as read.Lancelot (1977)
Walker Percy
8.36
6Mark as read.The Professor of Desire (1977)
Philip Roth
8.36
7Mark as read.Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams (1977)
Sylvia Plath
7.01
8Mark as read.Illusions (1977)
Richard Bach
6.48
9Mark as read.Falconer (1977)
John Cheever
6.01
10Mark as read.A Scanner Darkly (1977)
Philip K. Dick
6.01
11Mark as read.A Place to Come to (1977)
Robert Penn Warren
5.75
12Mark as read.The Shining (1977)
Stephen King
5.74
13Mark as read.Elbow Room (1977)
James Alan McPherson
4.78
14Mark as read.A Book of Common Prayer (1977)
Joan Didion
4.66
15Mark as read.The Women's Room (1977)
Marilyn French
4.37
16Mark as read.How to Save Your Own Life (1977)
Erica Jong
4.22
17Mark as read.Furious Seasons (1977)
Raymond Carver
4.20
18Mark as read.Mind of My Mind (1977)
Octavia Butler
3.79
19Mark as read.Blood Tie (1977)
Mary Lee Settle
3.67
20Mark as read.The Sea Birds Are Still Alive (1977)
Toni Cade Bambara
3.59
21Mark as read.I, etcetera (1977)
Susan Sontag
3.30
22Mark as read.A Summer to Die (1977)
Lois Lowry
3.28
23Mark as read.True Confessions (1977)
John Gregory Dunne
2.98
24Mark as read.Coma (1977)
Robin Cook
2.63
25Mark as read.Edith's Diary (1977)
Patricia Highsmith
2.37
26Mark as read.White Rat (1977)
Gayl Jones
2.30
27Mark as read.Madder Music (1977)
Peter De Vries
1.32
28Mark as read.Sportscar Menopause (1977)
Page Stegner
0.71

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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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