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









AMERICAN FICTION 1956

# Title Author Year Score
1Mark as read.Giovanni's RoomJames Baldwin195610.90
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 184 (4.83 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 92 (2.69 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 5 (2.05 points)
2Mark as read.Seize the DaySaul Bellow19569.42
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 52 (3.14 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 247 (3.72 points) | American Literature: 12 (2.06 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
3Mark as read.The Floating OperaJohn Barth19569.31
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 128 (4.29 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 128 (3.00 points) | American Literature: 4 (1.22 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
4Mark as read.The Last HurrahEdwin O'Connor19566.30
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 60 (3.31 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 26 (1.70 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
5Mark as read.A Walk on the Wild SideNelson Algren19566.01
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 26 (2.43 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 29 (1.77 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
6Mark as read.The Field of VisionWright Morris19565.68
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Winner (1.00 point) | Google Scholar: 11 (1.70 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 49 (2.15 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
7Mark as read.Peyton PlaceGrace Metalious19564.89
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 40 (2.86 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 42 (2.04 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
8Mark as read.Old YellerFred Gipson19564.77
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 23 (2.31 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 25 (1.67 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
9Mark as read.The Brave CowboyEdward Abbey19564.19
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 32 (2.63 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 21 (1.56 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
10Mark as read.CompulsionMeyer Levin19564.16
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 33 (2.66 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 19 (1.50 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
11Mark as read.A Single PebbleJohn Hersey19563.92
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 21 (2.23 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 11 (1.19 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
12Mark as read.The Voice at the Back DoorElizabeth Spencer19563.91
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 7 (1.38 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 19 (1.50 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
13Mark as read.Further Fables for Our TimeJames Thurber19563.86
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 22 (2.27 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 9 (1.09 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
14Mark as read.Quiet Days in ClichyHenry Miller19562.67
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 11 (1.70 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 7 (0.97 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
15Mark as read.The Presence of GraceJ. F. Powers19562.29
Genre: Mixed Genre

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 3 (0.90 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 6 (0.90 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
16Mark as read.Double StarRobert Heinlein19562.29
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 8 (1.47 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 5 (0.82 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
17Mark as read.GreenwillowB. J. Chute19562.18
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 2 (0.71 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 7 (0.97 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
18Mark as read.Down ThereDavid Goodis19561.95
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 1 (0.45 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 19 (1.50 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
19Mark as read.These Thousand HillsA. B. Guthrie19561.90
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 16 (1.40 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
20Mark as read.Imperial WomanPearl S. Buck19561.79
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 8 (1.47 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 1 (0.32 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
21Mark as read.Chocolates for breakfastPamela Moore19561.36
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 4 (1.05 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 1 (0.32 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
22Mark as read.Generations of MenJohn Hunt19560.82
Genre: Mixed Genre

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 1 (0.32 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
# Score
1Mark as read.Giovanni's Room (1956)
James Baldwin
10.90
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 184 (4.83 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 92 (2.69 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 5 (2.05 points)
2Mark as read.Seize the Day (1956)
Saul Bellow
9.42
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 52 (3.14 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 247 (3.72 points) | American Literature: 12 (2.06 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
3Mark as read.The Floating Opera (1956)
John Barth
9.31
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 128 (4.29 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 128 (3.00 points) | American Literature: 4 (1.22 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
4Mark as read.The Last Hurrah (1956)
Edwin O'Connor
6.30
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 60 (3.31 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 26 (1.70 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
5Mark as read.A Walk on the Wild Side (1956)
Nelson Algren
6.01
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 26 (2.43 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 29 (1.77 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
6Mark as read.The Field of Vision (1956)
Wright Morris
5.68
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Winner (1.00 point) | Google Scholar: 11 (1.70 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 49 (2.15 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
7Mark as read.Peyton Place (1956)
Grace Metalious
4.89
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 40 (2.86 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 42 (2.04 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
8Mark as read.Old Yeller (1956)
Fred Gipson
4.77
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 23 (2.31 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 25 (1.67 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
9Mark as read.The Brave Cowboy (1956)
Edward Abbey
4.19
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 32 (2.63 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 21 (1.56 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
10Mark as read.Compulsion (1956)
Meyer Levin
4.16
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 33 (2.66 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 19 (1.50 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
11Mark as read.A Single Pebble (1956)
John Hersey
3.92
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 21 (2.23 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 11 (1.19 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
12Mark as read.The Voice at the Back Door (1956)
Elizabeth Spencer
3.91
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 7 (1.38 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 19 (1.50 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
13Mark as read.Further Fables for Our Time (1956)
James Thurber
3.86
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 22 (2.27 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 9 (1.09 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
14Mark as read.Quiet Days in Clichy (1956)
Henry Miller
2.67
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 11 (1.70 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 7 (0.97 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
15Mark as read.The Presence of Grace (1956)
J. F. Powers
2.29
Genre: Mixed Genre

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 3 (0.90 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 6 (0.90 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
16Mark as read.Double Star (1956)
Robert Heinlein
2.29
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 8 (1.47 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 5 (0.82 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
17Mark as read.Greenwillow (1956)
B. J. Chute
2.18
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 2 (0.71 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 7 (0.97 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
18Mark as read.Down There (1956)
David Goodis
1.95
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 1 (0.45 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 19 (1.50 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
19Mark as read.These Thousand Hills (1956)
A. B. Guthrie
1.90
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 16 (1.40 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
20Mark as read.Imperial Woman (1956)
Pearl S. Buck
1.79
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 8 (1.47 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 1 (0.32 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
21Mark as read.Chocolates for breakfast (1956)
Pamela Moore
1.36
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 4 (1.05 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 1 (0.32 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
22Mark as read.Generations of Men (1956)
John Hunt
0.82
Genre: Mixed Genre

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 1 (0.32 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)

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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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