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METACANON 0.7.2
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METACANON 0.7.2

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