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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 1986

# Title Author Year Score
1Mark as read.The CounterlifePhilip Roth198611.18
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 153 (4.55 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 245 (3.71 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 7 (2.42 points)
2Mark as read.The Garden of EdenErnest Hemingway19869.80
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 124 (4.25 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 148 (3.15 points) | American Literature: 7 (1.61 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
3Mark as read.The Beet QueenLouise Erdrich19868.51
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 80 (3.66 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 139 (3.09 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 2 (1.24 points)
4Mark as read.Count ZeroWilliam Gibson19868.47
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 216 (5.09 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 83 (2.59 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
5Mark as read.ParadiseDonald Barthelme19868.33
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 10 (1.63 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 243 (3.70 points) | American Literature: 8 (1.72 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
6Mark as read.The Mixquiahuala LettersAna Castillo19867.95
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 149 (4.51 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 88 (2.65 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
7Mark as read.Fools CrowJames Welch19867.24
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 97 (3.91 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 78 (2.54 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
8Mark as read.The SportswriterRichard Ford19866.99
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 77 (3.61 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 48 (2.14 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 2 (1.24 points)
9Mark as read.GrieverGerald Vizenor19866.93
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 59 (3.29 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 109 (2.85 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
10Mark as read.The Last of the Menu GirlsDenise Chavez19866.50
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 90 (3.81 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 35 (1.90 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
11Mark as read.World's FairE. L. Doctorow19866.09
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Winner (1.00 point) | Google Scholar: 33 (2.66 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 24 (1.65 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
12Mark as read.Gerald's PartyRobert Coover19865.27
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 25 (2.39 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 32 (1.84 points) | American Literature: 3 (1.04 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
13Mark as read.A Summons to MemphisPeter Taylor19865.06
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Winner (1.00 point) | National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 15 (1.94 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.Anywhere But HereMona Simpson19864.93
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 40 (2.86 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 13 (1.28 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
15Mark as read.Reckless EyeballingIshmael Reed19864.87
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 35 (2.72 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 49 (2.15 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
16Mark as read.The Good MotherSue Miller19864.86
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 54 (3.19 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.The Lost Language of CranesDavid Leavitt19864.80
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 38 (2.80 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 18 (1.47 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
18Mark as read.Speaker for the DeadOrson Scott Card19864.64
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 49 (3.08 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 21 (1.56 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
19Mark as read.The Sorcerer's ApprenticeCharles Johnson19864.17
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 16 (2.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 50 (2.17 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
20Mark as read.Forrest GumpWinston Groom19864.05
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 49 (3.08 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 7 (0.97 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
21Mark as read.Answered Prayers: The Unfinished NovelTruman Capote19863.76
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 47 (3.03 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 4 (0.73 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
22Mark as read.WhitesNorman Rush19862.36
Genre: Mixed Genre

Pulitzer Prize Finalist (0.50 points) | National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 15 (1.36 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
23Mark as read.A Door into OceanJoan Slonczewski19862.31
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 5 (1.17 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 10 (1.14 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
24Mark as read.Cutting LisaPercival Everett19861.95
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)
25Mark as read.Love in the Middle AgesHelen Barolini19861.86
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 3 (0.90 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 7 (0.97 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
26Mark as read.The Meanings of a WordGloria Naylor19861.79
Genre: Mixed Genre

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)
27Mark as read.Demon BoxKen Kesey19861.61
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 9 (1.09 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
28Mark as read.The Northern LightsHoward Norman19861.40
Genre: Mixed Genre

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 6 (0.90 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
29Mark as read.Because the NightJames Ellroy19860.82
Genre: Novel

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)
30Mark as read.ItStephen King19860.74*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus.
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 970 (0.71 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus. | American Literature: 6 (0.02 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus. | American Literary History: 3 (0.01 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: -99.61%
# Score
1Mark as read.The Counterlife (1986)
Philip Roth
11.18
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 153 (4.55 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 245 (3.71 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 7 (2.42 points)
2Mark as read.The Garden of Eden (1986)
Ernest Hemingway
9.80
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 124 (4.25 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 148 (3.15 points) | American Literature: 7 (1.61 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
3Mark as read.The Beet Queen (1986)
Louise Erdrich
8.51
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 80 (3.66 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 139 (3.09 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 2 (1.24 points)
4Mark as read.Count Zero (1986)
William Gibson
8.47
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 216 (5.09 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 83 (2.59 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
5Mark as read.Paradise (1986)
Donald Barthelme
8.33
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 10 (1.63 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 243 (3.70 points) | American Literature: 8 (1.72 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
6Mark as read.The Mixquiahuala Letters (1986)
Ana Castillo
7.95
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 149 (4.51 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 88 (2.65 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
7Mark as read.Fools Crow (1986)
James Welch
7.24
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 97 (3.91 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 78 (2.54 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
8Mark as read.The Sportswriter (1986)
Richard Ford
6.99
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 77 (3.61 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 48 (2.14 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 2 (1.24 points)
9Mark as read.Griever (1986)
Gerald Vizenor
6.93
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 59 (3.29 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 109 (2.85 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
10Mark as read.The Last of the Menu Girls (1986)
Denise Chavez
6.50
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 90 (3.81 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 35 (1.90 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
11Mark as read.World's Fair (1986)
E. L. Doctorow
6.09
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Winner (1.00 point) | Google Scholar: 33 (2.66 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 24 (1.65 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
12Mark as read.Gerald's Party (1986)
Robert Coover
5.27
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 25 (2.39 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 32 (1.84 points) | American Literature: 3 (1.04 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
13Mark as read.A Summons to Memphis (1986)
Peter Taylor
5.06
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Winner (1.00 point) | National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 15 (1.94 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.Anywhere But Here (1986)
Mona Simpson
4.93
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 40 (2.86 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 13 (1.28 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
15Mark as read.Reckless Eyeballing (1986)
Ishmael Reed
4.87
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 35 (2.72 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 49 (2.15 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
16Mark as read.The Good Mother (1986)
Sue Miller
4.86
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 54 (3.19 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.The Lost Language of Cranes (1986)
David Leavitt
4.80
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 38 (2.80 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 18 (1.47 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
18Mark as read.Speaker for the Dead (1986)
Orson Scott Card
4.64
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 49 (3.08 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 21 (1.56 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
19Mark as read.The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1986)
Charles Johnson
4.17
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 16 (2.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 50 (2.17 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
20Mark as read.Forrest Gump (1986)
Winston Groom
4.05
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 49 (3.08 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 7 (0.97 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
21Mark as read.Answered Prayers: The Unfinished Novel (1986)
Truman Capote
3.76
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 47 (3.03 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 4 (0.73 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
22Mark as read.Whites (1986)
Norman Rush
2.36
Genre: Mixed Genre

Pulitzer Prize Finalist (0.50 points) | National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 15 (1.36 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
23Mark as read.A Door into Ocean (1986)
Joan Slonczewski
2.31
Genre: Mixed Genre

Google Scholar: 5 (1.17 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 10 (1.14 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
24Mark as read.Cutting Lisa (1986)
Percival Everett
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)
25Mark as read.Love in the Middle Ages (1986)
Helen Barolini
1.86
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 3 (0.90 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 7 (0.97 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
26Mark as read.The Meanings of a Word (1986)
Gloria Naylor
1.79
Genre: Mixed Genre

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)
27Mark as read.Demon Box (1986)
Ken Kesey
1.61
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 9 (1.09 points) | American Literature: 1 (0.53 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
28Mark as read.The Northern Lights (1986)
Howard Norman
1.40
Genre: Mixed Genre

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 6 (0.90 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
29Mark as read.Because the Night (1986)
James Ellroy
0.82
Genre: Novel

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)
30Mark as read.It (1986)
Stephen King
0.74*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus.
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 970 (0.71 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus. | American Literature: 6 (0.02 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus. | American Literary History: 3 (0.01 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: -99.61%

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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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