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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.BelovedToni Morrison198727.15
2Mark as read.The Bonfire of the VanitiesTom Wolfe19879.71
3Mark as read.The New York TrilogyPaul Auster19879.31
4Mark as read.No Telephone to HeavenMichelle Cliff19878.23
5Mark as read.DawnOctavia Butler19878.08
6Mark as read.The Thanatos SyndromeWalker Percy19877.48
7Mark as read.In the Country of Last ThingsPaul Auster19877.41
8Mark as read.A Yellow Raft in Blue WaterMichael Dorris19877.07
9Mark as read.HatchetGary Paulsen19876.47
10Mark as read.The Tidewater TalesJohn Barth19876.06
11Mark as read.The Western LandsWilliam S. Burroughs19875.42
12Mark as read.SphereMichael Crichton19875.27
13Mark as read.Crossing to SafetyWallace Stegner19875.06
14Mark as read.More Die of HeartbreakSaul Bellow19875.05
15Mark as read.Paco's StoryLarry Heinemann19875.04
16Mark as read.BluebeardKurt Vonnegut19875.04
17Mark as read.The Broom of the SystemDavid Foster Wallace19874.83
18Mark as read.You Must Remember ThisJoyce Carol Oates19874.78
19Mark as read.Ellen FosterKaye Gibbons19874.47
20Mark as read.The Rules of AttractionBret Easton Ellis19873.73
21Mark as read.Postcards from the EdgeCarrie Fisher19873.40
22Mark as read.TexasvilleLarry McMurtry19873.40
23Mark as read.Rich in LoveJosephine Humphreys19873.22
24Mark as read.The James Joyce MurderAmanda Cross19873.12
25Mark as read.Walking Across EgyptClyde Edgerton19872.91
26Mark as read.That NightAlice McDermott19872.71
27Mark as read.World's EndT. C. Boyle19872.71
28Mark as read.The Medusa FrequencyRussell Hoban19872.59
29Mark as read.What the Hell for You Left Your Heart in San Francisco?Bienvenido Santos19872.45
30Mark as read.Persian NightsDiane Johnson19871.85
31Mark as read.Rabble StarkeyLois Lowry19871.48
# Score
1Mark as read.Beloved (1987)
Toni Morrison
27.15
2Mark as read.The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987)
Tom Wolfe
9.71
3Mark as read.The New York Trilogy (1987)
Paul Auster
9.31
4Mark as read.No Telephone to Heaven (1987)
Michelle Cliff
8.23
5Mark as read.Dawn (1987)
Octavia Butler
8.08
6Mark as read.The Thanatos Syndrome (1987)
Walker Percy
7.48
7Mark as read.In the Country of Last Things (1987)
Paul Auster
7.41
8Mark as read.A Yellow Raft in Blue Water (1987)
Michael Dorris
7.07
9Mark as read.Hatchet (1987)
Gary Paulsen
6.47
10Mark as read.The Tidewater Tales (1987)
John Barth
6.06
11Mark as read.The Western Lands (1987)
William S. Burroughs
5.42
12Mark as read.Sphere (1987)
Michael Crichton
5.27
13Mark as read.Crossing to Safety (1987)
Wallace Stegner
5.06
14Mark as read.More Die of Heartbreak (1987)
Saul Bellow
5.05
15Mark as read.Paco's Story (1987)
Larry Heinemann
5.04
16Mark as read.Bluebeard (1987)
Kurt Vonnegut
5.04
17Mark as read.The Broom of the System (1987)
David Foster Wallace
4.83
18Mark as read.You Must Remember This (1987)
Joyce Carol Oates
4.78
19Mark as read.Ellen Foster (1987)
Kaye Gibbons
4.47
20Mark as read.The Rules of Attraction (1987)
Bret Easton Ellis
3.73
21Mark as read.Postcards from the Edge (1987)
Carrie Fisher
3.40
22Mark as read.Texasville (1987)
Larry McMurtry
3.40
23Mark as read.Rich in Love (1987)
Josephine Humphreys
3.22
24Mark as read.The James Joyce Murder (1987)
Amanda Cross
3.12
25Mark as read.Walking Across Egypt (1987)
Clyde Edgerton
2.91
26Mark as read.That Night (1987)
Alice McDermott
2.71
27Mark as read.World's End (1987)
T. C. Boyle
2.71
28Mark as read.The Medusa Frequency (1987)
Russell Hoban
2.59
29Mark as read.What the Hell for You Left Your Heart in San Francisco? (1987)
Bienvenido Santos
2.45
30Mark as read.Persian Nights (1987)
Diane Johnson
1.85
31Mark as read.Rabble Starkey (1987)
Lois Lowry
1.48

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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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