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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 2008

# Title Author Year Score
1Mark as read.A MercyToni Morrison20089.36
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 151 (4.53 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 101 (2.77 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 5 (2.05 points)
2Mark as read.The Hunger GamesSuzanne Collins20089.35
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 468 (6.48 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 45 (2.09 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
3Mark as read.IndignationPhilip Roth20087.38
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 46 (3.01 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 145 (3.13 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 2 (1.24 points)
4Mark as read.Unaccustomed EarthJhumpa Lahiri20087.03
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 167 (4.68 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 21 (1.56 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
5Mark as read.NetherlandJoseph O'Neill20086.95
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 90 (3.81 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 9 (1.09 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 5 (2.05 points)
6Mark as read.The Lazarus ProjectAleksandar Hemon20085.01
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 29 (2.53 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 11 (1.19 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
7Mark as read.The Plague of DovesLouise Erdrich20084.77
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 31 (2.60 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 25 (1.67 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
8Mark as read.Olive KitteridgeElizabeth Strout20084.32
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Winner (1.00 point) | Google Scholar: 34 (2.69 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 3 (0.63 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
9Mark as read.Man in the DarkPaul Auster20084.31
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 53 (3.17 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 10 (1.14 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
10Mark as read.Shadow CountryPeter Matthiessen20082.91
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Winner (1.00 point) | Google Scholar: 5 (1.17 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 4 (0.73 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
11Mark as read.Atmospheric DisturbancesRivka Galchen20082.68
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 20 (2.19 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 2 (0.50 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
12Mark as read.HomeMarilynne Robinson20082.65*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus.
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 275 (1.60 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus. | American Literature: 4 (0.22 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus. | American Literary History: 4 (0.33 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: -91.91%
13Mark as read.People of the BookGeraldine Brooks20082.59
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 22 (2.27 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 1 (0.32 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
14Mark as read.The Story of Edgar SawtelleDavid Wroblewski20082.26
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 15 (1.94 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 1 (0.32 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
15Mark as read.The Widows of EastwickJohn Updike20082.25
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 6 (1.28 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 7 (0.97 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
16Mark as read.The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyMary Ann Shaffer20082.20
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 14 (1.89 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 1 (0.32 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
17Mark as read.Telex from CubaRachel Kushner20082.17
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 4 (1.05 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 3 (0.63 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
18Mark as read.Dangerous LaughterSteven Millhauser20081.97
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 8 (1.47 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 2 (0.50 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
19Mark as read.Lush LifeRichard Price20081.91
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 5 (1.17 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 4 (0.73 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
20Mark as read.The Monsters of TempletonLauren Groff20081.67
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 5 (1.17 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 2 (0.50 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
21Mark as read.City of ThievesDavid Benioff20081.52
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 3 (0.90 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 3 (0.63 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
22Mark as read.The EndSalvatore Scibona20081.48*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus.
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 1 (0.45 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 8 (0.36 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: 1 (0.17 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: -84.78%
23Mark as read.The English MajorJim Harrison20081.44
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 2 (0.71 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 4 (0.73 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
24Mark as read.A Lion Among MenGregory Maguire20081.38
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)
25Mark as read.All SoulsChristine Schutt20081.23
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 4 (0.73 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
26Mark as read.The Given DayDennis Lehane20081.17
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 5 (1.17 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 0 (0.00 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
27Mark as read.The Story of ForgettingStefan Merrill Block20081.17
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 5 (1.17 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.The ReserveRussell Banks20080.90
Genre: Novel

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)
# Score
1Mark as read.A Mercy (2008)
Toni Morrison
9.36
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 151 (4.53 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 101 (2.77 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 5 (2.05 points)
2Mark as read.The Hunger Games (2008)
Suzanne Collins
9.35
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 468 (6.48 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 45 (2.09 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
3Mark as read.Indignation (2008)
Philip Roth
7.38
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 46 (3.01 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 145 (3.13 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 2 (1.24 points)
4Mark as read.Unaccustomed Earth (2008)
Jhumpa Lahiri
7.03
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 167 (4.68 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 21 (1.56 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
5Mark as read.Netherland (2008)
Joseph O'Neill
6.95
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 90 (3.81 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 9 (1.09 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 5 (2.05 points)
6Mark as read.The Lazarus Project (2008)
Aleksandar Hemon
5.01
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 29 (2.53 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 11 (1.19 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 1 (0.79 points)
7Mark as read.The Plague of Doves (2008)
Louise Erdrich
4.77
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 31 (2.60 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 25 (1.67 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
8Mark as read.Olive Kitteridge (2008)
Elizabeth Strout
4.32
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Winner (1.00 point) | Google Scholar: 34 (2.69 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 3 (0.63 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
9Mark as read.Man in the Dark (2008)
Paul Auster
4.31
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 53 (3.17 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 10 (1.14 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
10Mark as read.Shadow Country (2008)
Peter Matthiessen
2.91
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Winner (1.00 point) | Google Scholar: 5 (1.17 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 4 (0.73 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
11Mark as read.Atmospheric Disturbances (2008)
Rivka Galchen
2.68
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 20 (2.19 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 2 (0.50 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
12Mark as read.Home (2008)
Marilynne Robinson
2.65*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus.
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 275 (1.60 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus. | American Literature: 4 (0.22 points)*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus. | American Literary History: 4 (0.33 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: -91.91%
13Mark as read.People of the Book (2008)
Geraldine Brooks
2.59
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 22 (2.27 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 1 (0.32 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
14Mark as read.The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (2008)
David Wroblewski
2.26
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 15 (1.94 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 1 (0.32 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
15Mark as read.The Widows of Eastwick (2008)
John Updike
2.25
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 6 (1.28 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 7 (0.97 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
16Mark as read.The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2008)
Mary Ann Shaffer
2.20
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 14 (1.89 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 1 (0.32 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
17Mark as read.Telex from Cuba (2008)
Rachel Kushner
2.17
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 4 (1.05 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 3 (0.63 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
18Mark as read.Dangerous Laughter (2008)
Steven Millhauser
1.97
Genre: Collection of Short Stories

Google Scholar: 8 (1.47 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 2 (0.50 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
19Mark as read.Lush Life (2008)
Richard Price
1.91
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 5 (1.17 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 4 (0.73 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
20Mark as read.The Monsters of Templeton (2008)
Lauren Groff
1.67
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 5 (1.17 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 2 (0.50 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
21Mark as read.City of Thieves (2008)
David Benioff
1.52
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 3 (0.90 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 3 (0.63 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
22Mark as read.The End (2008)
Salvatore Scibona
1.48*Score adjusted to correct for title consisting of an n-gram occuring with high frequency in the English language corpus.
Genre: Novel

National Book Award Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 1 (0.45 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 8 (0.36 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: 1 (0.17 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: -84.78%
23Mark as read.The English Major (2008)
Jim Harrison
1.44
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 2 (0.71 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 4 (0.73 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
24Mark as read.A Lion Among Men (2008)
Gregory Maguire
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)
25Mark as read.All Souls (2008)
Christine Schutt
1.23
Genre: Novel

Pulitzer Prize Finalist (0.50 points) | Google Scholar: 0 (0.00 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 4 (0.73 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
26Mark as read.The Given Day (2008)
Dennis Lehane
1.17
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 5 (1.17 points) | JSTOR (Language and Literature): 0 (0.00 points) | American Literature: 0 (0.00 points) | American Literary History: 0 (0.00 points)
27Mark as read.The Story of Forgetting (2008)
Stefan Merrill Block
1.17
Genre: Novel

Google Scholar: 5 (1.17 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.The Reserve (2008)
Russell Banks
0.90
Genre: Novel

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)

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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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