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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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AMERICAN FICTION 1939

# Title Author Year Score
1Mark as read.The Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck193919.97
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Winner (1.00 point) | Google Scholar: 1298 (8.77 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 666 (5.04 points) | American Literature: 28 (2.91 points) | American Literary History: 6 (2.25 points)
2Mark as read.The Day of the LocustNathanael West193912.92
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 256 (5.37 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 181 (3.36 points) | American Literature: 13 (2.13 points) | American Literary History: 5 (2.05 points)
3Mark as read.The Wild PalmsWilliam Faulkner193910.95
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 43 (2.93 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 271 (3.83 points) | American Literature: 29 (2.95 points) | American Literary History: 2 (1.24 points)
4Mark as read.The Big SleepRaymond Chandler193910.83
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 196 (4.93 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 162 (3.25 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 4 (1.83 points)
5Mark as read.The Web and the RockThomas Wolfe19399.95
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 107 (4.04 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 208 (3.52 points) | American Literature: 17 (2.39 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
6Mark as read.Moses, Man of the MountainZora Neale Hurston19399.70
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 68 (3.46 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 104 (2.80 points) | American Literature: 7 (1.61 points) | American Literary History: 4 (1.83 points)
7Mark as read.Pale Horse, Pale RiderKatherine Anne Porter19398.02
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 29 (2.53 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 238 (3.67 points) | American Literature: 9 (1.81 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
8Mark as read.Christ in ConcretePietro di Donato19397.44
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 92 (3.84 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 42 (2.04 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 3 (1.57 points)
9Mark as read.Goodbye to BerlinChristopher Isherwood19397.16
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 139 (4.41 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 98 (2.75 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
10Mark as read.Tropic of CapricornHenry Miller19396.75
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 8 (1.47 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 100 (2.77 points) | American Literature: 8 (1.72 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
11Mark as read.Night RiderRobert Penn Warren19396.51
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 6 (1.28 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 157 (3.21 points) | American Literature: 4 (1.22 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
12Mark as read.Adventures of a Young ManJohn Dos Passos19395.59
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 22 (2.27 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 40 (2.00 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
13Mark as read.The NazareneSholem Asch19395.13
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 13 (1.83 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 39 (1.98 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
14Mark as read.Ask the DustJohn Fante19394.42
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 23 (2.31 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 46 (2.11 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
15Mark as read.Kitty FoyleChristopher Morley19394.24
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 15 (1.94 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 29 (1.77 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
16Mark as read.Children of GodVardis Fisher19393.23
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 9 (1.55 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 25 (1.67 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
17Mark as read.A Heart for the Gods of MexicoConrad Aiken19393.22
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 3 (0.90 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 13 (1.28 points) | American Literature: 3 (1.04 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
18Mark as read.Let Me Breathe ThunderWilliam Attaway19392.28
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 4 (1.05 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 12 (1.24 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
19Mark as read.Star Spangled VirginDuBose Heyward19390.82
Genre: Novella

Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 5 (0.82 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
# Score
1Mark as read.The Grapes of Wrath (1939)
John Steinbeck
19.97
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Winner (1.00 point) | Google Scholar: 1298 (8.77 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 666 (5.04 points) | American Literature: 28 (2.91 points) | American Literary History: 6 (2.25 points)
2Mark as read.The Day of the Locust (1939)
Nathanael West
12.92
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 256 (5.37 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 181 (3.36 points) | American Literature: 13 (2.13 points) | American Literary History: 5 (2.05 points)
3Mark as read.The Wild Palms (1939)
William Faulkner
10.95
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 43 (2.93 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 271 (3.83 points) | American Literature: 29 (2.95 points) | American Literary History: 2 (1.24 points)
4Mark as read.The Big Sleep (1939)
Raymond Chandler
10.83
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 196 (4.93 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 162 (3.25 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 4 (1.83 points)
5Mark as read.The Web and the Rock (1939)
Thomas Wolfe
9.95
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 107 (4.04 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 208 (3.52 points) | American Literature: 17 (2.39 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
6Mark as read.Moses, Man of the Mountain (1939)
Zora Neale Hurston
9.70
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 68 (3.46 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 104 (2.80 points) | American Literature: 7 (1.61 points) | American Literary History: 4 (1.83 points)
7Mark as read.Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939)
Katherine Anne Porter
8.02
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 29 (2.53 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 238 (3.67 points) | American Literature: 9 (1.81 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
8Mark as read.Christ in Concrete (1939)
Pietro di Donato
7.44
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 92 (3.84 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 42 (2.04 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 3 (1.57 points)
9Mark as read.Goodbye to Berlin (1939)
Christopher Isherwood
7.16
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 139 (4.41 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 98 (2.75 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
10Mark as read.Tropic of Capricorn (1939)
Henry Miller
6.75
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 8 (1.47 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 100 (2.77 points) | American Literature: 8 (1.72 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
11Mark as read.Night Rider (1939)
Robert Penn Warren
6.51
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 6 (1.28 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 157 (3.21 points) | American Literature: 4 (1.22 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
12Mark as read.Adventures of a Young Man (1939)
John Dos Passos
5.59
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 22 (2.27 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 40 (2.00 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
13Mark as read.The Nazarene (1939)
Sholem Asch
5.13
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 13 (1.83 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 39 (1.98 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
14Mark as read.Ask the Dust (1939)
John Fante
4.42
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 23 (2.31 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 46 (2.11 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
15Mark as read.Kitty Foyle (1939)
Christopher Morley
4.24
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 15 (1.94 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 29 (1.77 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
16Mark as read.Children of God (1939)
Vardis Fisher
3.23
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 9 (1.55 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 25 (1.67 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
17Mark as read.A Heart for the Gods of Mexico (1939)
Conrad Aiken
3.22
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 3 (0.90 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 13 (1.28 points) | American Literature: 3 (1.04 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
18Mark as read.Let Me Breathe Thunder (1939)
William Attaway
2.28
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 4 (1.05 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 12 (1.24 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
19Mark as read.Star Spangled Virgin (1939)
DuBose Heyward
0.82
Genre: Novella

Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 5 (0.82 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)

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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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