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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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# Title Author Year Score
1Add to wishlist.Almanac of the DeadLeslie Marmon Silko199112.52
2Add to wishlist.Bastard Out of CarolinaDorothy Allison199110.84
3Add to wishlist.Mao IIDon DeLillo199110.82
4Add to wishlist.Dreaming in CubanCristina Garcia199110.79
5Add to wishlist.American PsychoBret Easton Ellis199110.79
6Add to wishlist.Woman Hollering CreekSandra Cisneros199110.54
7Add to wishlist.How the Garcia Girls Lost Their AccentsJulia Alvarez19919.82
8Add to wishlist.A Thousand AcresJane Smiley19918.66
9Add to wishlist.The Heirs of ColumbusGerald Vizenor19918.49
10Add to wishlist.Donald DukFrank Chin19917.87
11Add to wishlist.LilaRobert M. Pirsig19917.01
12Add to wishlist.Typical AmericanGish Jen19916.99
13Add to wishlist.The Kitchen God's WifeAmy Tan19916.51
14Add to wishlist.Cracking IndiaBapsi Sidhwa19915.66
15Add to wishlist.The Crown of ColumbusLouise Erdrich19915.20
16Add to wishlist.Harlot's GhostNorman Mailer19915.01
17Add to wishlist.The Sweet HereafterRussell Banks19914.97
18Add to wishlist.The Miraculous Day of Amalia GomezJohn Rechy19914.85
19Add to wishlist.The Last Voyage of Somebody the SailorJohn Barth19914.54
20Add to wishlist.MatingNorman Rush19914.51
21Add to wishlist.A Red DeathWalter Mosley19914.48
22Add to wishlist.Two Girls, Fat and ThinMary Gaitskill19913.92
23Add to wishlist.Pinocchio in VeniceRobert Coover19913.82
24Add to wishlist.Outerbridge ReachRobert Stone19913.80
25Add to wishlist.XenocideOrson Scott Card19913.70
26Add to wishlist.Lost in the CityEdward P. Jones19913.47
27Add to wishlist.He, She and ItMarge Piercy19913.20
28Add to wishlist.Ripley Under WaterPatricia Highsmith19912.51
29Add to wishlist.The RiverGary Paulsen19912.38
30Add to wishlist.AntoniettaJohn Hersey19911.61
31Add to wishlist.JerniganDavid Gates19911.58
32Add to wishlist.The Autobiography of My BodyDavid Guy19911.44
33Add to wishlist.Something to Remember Me BySaul Bellow19911.36
34Add to wishlist.The Middle KingdomAndrea Barrett19910.63
# Score
1Add to wishlist.Almanac of the Dead (1991)
Leslie Marmon Silko
12.52
2Add to wishlist.Bastard Out of Carolina (1991)
Dorothy Allison
10.84
3Add to wishlist.Mao II (1991)
Don DeLillo
10.82
4Add to wishlist.Dreaming in Cuban (1991)
Cristina Garcia
10.79
5Add to wishlist.American Psycho (1991)
Bret Easton Ellis
10.79
6Add to wishlist.Woman Hollering Creek (1991)
Sandra Cisneros
10.54
7Add to wishlist.How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (1991)
Julia Alvarez
9.82
8Add to wishlist.A Thousand Acres (1991)
Jane Smiley
8.66
9Add to wishlist.The Heirs of Columbus (1991)
Gerald Vizenor
8.49
10Add to wishlist.Donald Duk (1991)
Frank Chin
7.87
11Add to wishlist.Lila (1991)
Robert M. Pirsig
7.01
12Add to wishlist.Typical American (1991)
Gish Jen
6.99
13Add to wishlist.The Kitchen God's Wife (1991)
Amy Tan
6.51
14Add to wishlist.Cracking India (1991)
Bapsi Sidhwa
5.66
15Add to wishlist.The Crown of Columbus (1991)
Louise Erdrich
5.20
16Add to wishlist.Harlot's Ghost (1991)
Norman Mailer
5.01
17Add to wishlist.The Sweet Hereafter (1991)
Russell Banks
4.97
18Add to wishlist.The Miraculous Day of Amalia Gomez (1991)
John Rechy
4.85
19Add to wishlist.The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor (1991)
John Barth
4.54
20Add to wishlist.Mating (1991)
Norman Rush
4.51
21Add to wishlist.A Red Death (1991)
Walter Mosley
4.48
22Add to wishlist.Two Girls, Fat and Thin (1991)
Mary Gaitskill
3.92
23Add to wishlist.Pinocchio in Venice (1991)
Robert Coover
3.82
24Add to wishlist.Outerbridge Reach (1991)
Robert Stone
3.80
25Add to wishlist.Xenocide (1991)
Orson Scott Card
3.70
26Add to wishlist.Lost in the City (1991)
Edward P. Jones
3.47
27Add to wishlist.He, She and It (1991)
Marge Piercy
3.20
28Add to wishlist.Ripley Under Water (1991)
Patricia Highsmith
2.51
29Add to wishlist.The River (1991)
Gary Paulsen
2.38
30Add to wishlist.Antonietta (1991)
John Hersey
1.61
31Add to wishlist.Jernigan (1991)
David Gates
1.58
32Add to wishlist.The Autobiography of My Body (1991)
David Guy
1.44
33Add to wishlist.Something to Remember Me By (1991)
Saul Bellow
1.36
34Add to wishlist.The Middle Kingdom (1991)
Andrea Barrett
0.63

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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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