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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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Include only works published between and .

Althorithm Modifications

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









AMERICAN FICTION 1981

# Title Author Year Score
1Mark as read.Tar BabyToni Morrison198112.69
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 214 (5.07 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 330 (4.07 points) | American Literature: 6 (1.50 points) | American Literary History: 5 (2.05 points)
2Mark as read.StorytellerLeslie Marmon Silko198111.84
Genre: Collection of Short Stories, Other

Google Scholar: 234 (5.22 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 253 (3.75 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 5 (2.05 points)
3Mark as read.Rabbit is RichJohn Updike19819.18
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Winner (1.00 point) | National Book Award Winner (1.00 point) | Google Scholar: 54 (3.19 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 74 (2.49 points) | American Literature: 6 (1.50 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
4Mark as read.The Chaneysville IncidentDavid Bradley19818.47
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 96 (3.90 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 41 (2.02 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 5 (2.05 points)
5Mark as read.Zuckerman UnboundPhilip Roth19818.45
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 93 (3.85 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 107 (2.83 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 2 (1.24 points)
6Mark as read.What We Talk About When We Talk About LoveRaymond Carver19817.49
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 77 (3.61 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 56 (2.26 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
7Mark as read.ValisPhilip K. Dick19816.71
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 97 (3.91 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 104 (2.80 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
8Mark as read.Cities of the Red NightWilliam S. Burroughs19816.28
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 77 (3.61 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 32 (1.84 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
9Mark as read.A Mother and Two DaughtersGail Godwin19815.21
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 25 (2.39 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 20 (1.53 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
10Mark as read.Loon LakeE. L. Doctorow19815.18
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 22 (2.27 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 34 (1.88 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
11Mark as read.The Company of WomenMary Gordon19815.06
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 23 (2.31 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 27 (1.72 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
12Mark as read.Hiding PlaceJohn Edgar Wideman19815.00
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 7 (1.38 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 59 (2.30 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
13Mark as read.The Hotel New HampshireJohn Irving19814.92
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 38 (2.80 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 23 (1.62 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
14Mark as read.A Flag for SunriseRobert Stone19814.88
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Finalist (0.50 points) | National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 24 (2.35 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 20 (1.53 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
15Mark as read.Sixty StoriesDonald Barthelme19814.73
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 45 (2.98 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 28 (1.75 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
16Mark as read.Morgan's PassingAnne Tyler19814.31
Genre: Mixed Genre

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 17 (2.05 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 12 (1.24 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
17Mark as read.The Book of LightsChaim Potok19814.21
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 31 (2.60 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 23 (1.62 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
18Mark as read.The TestamentElie Wiesel19813.86
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 13 (1.83 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 42 (2.04 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
19Mark as read.Little, BigJohn Crowley19812.99
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 9 (1.55 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 17 (1.43 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
20Mark as read.Ellis IslandMark Helprin19812.87
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 6 (1.28 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 9 (1.09 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
21Mark as read.The Ultimate Good LuckRichard Ford19812.81
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 6 (1.28 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 20 (1.53 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
22Mark as read.The Alleys of EdenRobert Olen Butler19812.79
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 11 (1.70 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 9 (1.09 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
23Mark as read.Original SinsLisa Alther19812.66
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 8 (1.47 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 11 (1.19 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
24Mark as read.Household SaintsFrancine Prose19812.60
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 11 (1.70 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 6 (0.90 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
25Mark as read.DadWilliam Wharton19812.56*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus.
Genre: Mixed Genre

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 7 (1.38 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 8 (0.67 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus. | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus. | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus.

N-gram Frequency Correction: -57.34%
26Mark as read.Palm SundayKurt Vonnegut19811.70
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 26 (1.70 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
27Mark as read.The War of the RosesWarren Adler19811.38
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 7 (1.38 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 0 (0.00 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
28Mark as read.Rhinestone SharecroppingBill Gunn19811.35
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 1 (0.45 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 6 (0.90 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
# Score
1Mark as read.Tar Baby (1981)
Toni Morrison
12.69
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 214 (5.07 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 330 (4.07 points) | American Literature: 6 (1.50 points) | American Literary History: 5 (2.05 points)
2Mark as read.Storyteller (1981)
Leslie Marmon Silko
11.84
Genre: Collection of Short Stories, Other

Google Scholar: 234 (5.22 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 253 (3.75 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 5 (2.05 points)
3Mark as read.Rabbit is Rich (1981)
John Updike
9.18
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Winner (1.00 point) | National Book Award Winner (1.00 point) | Google Scholar: 54 (3.19 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 74 (2.49 points) | American Literature: 6 (1.50 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
4Mark as read.The Chaneysville Incident (1981)
David Bradley
8.47
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 96 (3.90 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 41 (2.02 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 5 (2.05 points)
5Mark as read.Zuckerman Unbound (1981)
Philip Roth
8.45
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 93 (3.85 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 107 (2.83 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 2 (1.24 points)
6Mark as read.What We Talk About When We Talk About Love (1981)
Raymond Carver
7.49
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 77 (3.61 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 56 (2.26 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
7Mark as read.Valis (1981)
Philip K. Dick
6.71
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 97 (3.91 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 104 (2.80 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
8Mark as read.Cities of the Red Night (1981)
William S. Burroughs
6.28
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 77 (3.61 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 32 (1.84 points) | American Literature: 2 (0.83 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
9Mark as read.A Mother and Two Daughters (1981)
Gail Godwin
5.21
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 25 (2.39 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 20 (1.53 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
10Mark as read.Loon Lake (1981)
E. L. Doctorow
5.18
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 22 (2.27 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 34 (1.88 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
11Mark as read.The Company of Women (1981)
Mary Gordon
5.06
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 23 (2.31 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 27 (1.72 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
12Mark as read.Hiding Place (1981)
John Edgar Wideman
5.00
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 7 (1.38 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 59 (2.30 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
13Mark as read.The Hotel New Hampshire (1981)
John Irving
4.92
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 38 (2.80 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 23 (1.62 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
14Mark as read.A Flag for Sunrise (1981)
Robert Stone
4.88
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Finalist (0.50 points) | National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 24 (2.35 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 20 (1.53 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
15Mark as read.Sixty Stories (1981)
Donald Barthelme
4.73
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 45 (2.98 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 28 (1.75 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
16Mark as read.Morgan's Passing (1981)
Anne Tyler
4.31
Genre: Mixed Genre

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 17 (2.05 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 12 (1.24 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
17Mark as read.The Book of Lights (1981)
Chaim Potok
4.21
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 31 (2.60 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 23 (1.62 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
18Mark as read.The Testament (1981)
Elie Wiesel
3.86
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 13 (1.83 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 42 (2.04 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
19Mark as read.Little, Big (1981)
John Crowley
2.99
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 9 (1.55 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 17 (1.43 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
20Mark as read.Ellis Island (1981)
Mark Helprin
2.87
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 6 (1.28 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 9 (1.09 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
21Mark as read.The Ultimate Good Luck (1981)
Richard Ford
2.81
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 6 (1.28 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 20 (1.53 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
22Mark as read.The Alleys of Eden (1981)
Robert Olen Butler
2.79
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 11 (1.70 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 9 (1.09 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
23Mark as read.Original Sins (1981)
Lisa Alther
2.66
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 8 (1.47 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 11 (1.19 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
24Mark as read.Household Saints (1981)
Francine Prose
2.60
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 11 (1.70 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 6 (0.90 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
25Mark as read.Dad (1981)
William Wharton
2.56*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus.
Genre: Mixed Genre

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 7 (1.38 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 8 (0.67 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus. | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus. | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus.

N-gram Frequency Correction: -57.34%
26Mark as read.Palm Sunday (1981)
Kurt Vonnegut
1.70
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 26 (1.70 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
27Mark as read.The War of the Roses (1981)
Warren Adler
1.38
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 7 (1.38 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 0 (0.00 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
28Mark as read.Rhinestone Sharecropping (1981)
Bill Gunn
1.35
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 1 (0.45 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 6 (0.90 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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