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 0.9 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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Algorithm Modifications

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      AMERICAN FICTION 1700-2019

      1Add to wishlist.Moby DickHerman Melville185122.98
      2Add to wishlist.BelovedToni Morrison198721.45
      3Add to wishlist.TwilightStephenie Meyer200521.38
      4Add to wishlist.Gone with the WindMargaret Mitchell193620.95
      5Add to wishlist.The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald192520.32
      6Add to wishlist.The Da Vinci CodeDan Brown200320.10
      7Add to wishlist.Invisible ManRalph Ellison195219.92
      8Add to wishlist.The Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck193919.52
      9Add to wishlist.To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee196019.08
      10Add to wishlist.Main StreetSinclair Lewis192019.08
      11Add to wishlist.Water for ElephantsSara Gruen200619.03
      12Add to wishlist.The Hunger GamesSuzanne Collins200818.36
      13Add to wishlist.The Kite RunnerKhaled Hosseini200318.22
      14Add to wishlist.The Bonfire of the VanitiesTom Wolfe198717.61
      15Add to wishlist.Uncle Tom's CabinHarriet Beecher Stowe185217.49
      16Add to wishlist.a, A NovelAndy Warhol196817.47NYT corpus frequency correction applied.
      17Add to wishlist.LolitaVladimir Nabokov195517.35
      18Add to wishlist.Washington SquareHenry James188017.09
      19Add to wishlist.BabbittSinclair Lewis192216.61
      20Add to wishlist.The Color PurpleAlice Walker198216.28
      21Add to wishlist.The Turn of the ScrewHenry James189816.03
      22Add to wishlist.Of Mice and MenJohn Steinbeck193715.91
      23Add to wishlist.Gone GirlGillian Flynn201215.87
      24Add to wishlist.A Dance With DragonsGeorge R. R. Martin201115.65
      25Add to wishlist.The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianSherman Alexie200715.52
      26Add to wishlist.The Sun Also RisesErnest Hemingway192615.46
      27Add to wishlist.The CorrectionsJonathan Franzen200115.39
      28Add to wishlist.The Lovely BonesAlice Sebold200215.39
      29Add to wishlist.From Here to EternityJames Jones195115.39
      30Add to wishlist.The ShiningStephen King197715.30
      31Add to wishlist.Native SonRichard Wright194015.17
      32Add to wishlist.Jurassic ParkMichael Crichton199015.07
      33Add to wishlist.The Bridges of Madison CountyRobert James Waller199215.03
      34Add to wishlist.RagtimeE. L. Doctorow197514.93
      35Add to wishlist.For Whom the Bell TollsErnest Hemingway194014.90
      36Add to wishlist.Adventures of Huckleberry FinnMark Twain188414.87
      37Add to wishlist.The Catcher in the RyeJ. D. Salinger195114.66
      38Add to wishlist.Little WomenLouisa May Alcott186914.66
      39Add to wishlist.Catch-22Joseph Heller196114.63
      40Add to wishlist.Look Homeward, AngelThomas Wolfe192914.53
      41Add to wishlist.The Fault in Our StarsJohn Green201214.42
      42Add to wishlist.The JungleUpton Sinclair190614.39
      43Add to wishlist.A Farewell to ArmsErnest Hemingway192914.28
      44Add to wishlist.The Old Man and the SeaErnest Hemingway195214.25
      45Add to wishlist.Slaughterhouse-FiveKurt Vonnegut196914.14
      46Add to wishlist.RootsAlex Haley197614.12NYT corpus frequency correction applied.*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      47Add to wishlist.The Age of InnocenceEdith Wharton192014.07
      48Add to wishlist.Portnoy's ComplaintPhilip Roth196914.04
      49Add to wishlist.The Naked and the DeadNorman Mailer194814.00
      50Add to wishlist.A Storm Of SwordsGeorge R. R. Martin200013.89
      51Add to wishlist.The Hunt for Red OctoberTom Clancy198413.82
      52Add to wishlist.The NotebookNicholas Sparks199613.75
      53Add to wishlist.Lonesome DoveLarry McMurtry198513.71
      54Add to wishlist.The Clan of the Cave BearJean M. Auel198013.71
      55Add to wishlist.The EuropeansHenry James187813.67
      56Add to wishlist.Guys and DollsDamon Runyon193213.64
      57Add to wishlist.The PearlJohn Steinbeck194713.56
      58Add to wishlist.The Scarlet LetterNathaniel Hawthorne185013.53
      59Add to wishlist.The Secret Life of BeesSue Monk Kidd200213.53
      60Add to wishlist.JawsPeter Benchley197413.49
      61Add to wishlist.The Red Badge of CourageStephen Crane189513.45
      62Add to wishlist.The Portrait of a LadyHenry James188113.42
      63Add to wishlist.In Our TimeErnest Hemingway192513.27
      64Add to wishlist.DuneFrank Herbert196513.27
      65Add to wishlist.A Feast For CrowsGeorge R. R. Martin200513.23
      66Add to wishlist.JazzToni Morrison199213.15
      67Add to wishlist.Cold MountainCharles Frazier199713.15
      68Add to wishlist.CarrieStephen King197413.04
      69Add to wishlist.HerzogSaul Bellow196412.96
      70Add to wishlist.The House of MirthEdith Wharton190512.96
      71Add to wishlist.ArrowsmithSinclair Lewis192512.96
      72Add to wishlist.Memoirs of a GeishaArthur Golden199712.88
      73Add to wishlist.PorgyDuBose Heyward192512.85
      74Add to wishlist.Gentlemen Prefer BlondesAnita Loos192512.73
      75Add to wishlist.Left BehindTim LaHaye199512.69
      76Add to wishlist.Tropic of CancerHenry Miller193412.69
      77Add to wishlist.The FallsJoyce Carol Oates200412.57
      78Add to wishlist.An American TragedyTheodore Dreiser192512.45
      79Add to wishlist.The FountainheadAyn Rand194312.41
      80Add to wishlist.Atlas ShruggedAyn Rand195712.41
      81Add to wishlist.Charlotte's WebE. B. White195212.37
      82Add to wishlist.The GodfatherMario Puzo196912.29
      83Add to wishlist.Elmer GantrySinclair Lewis192612.25
      84Add to wishlist.The Tiger's WifeTea Obreht201112.21
      85Add to wishlist.All the King's MenRobert Penn Warren194612.12
      86Add to wishlist.The Maltese FalconDashiell Hammett193012.08
      87Add to wishlist.The AmbassadorsHenry James190312.04
      88Add to wishlist.A Tree Grows in BrooklynBetty Smith194311.96
      89Add to wishlist.It Can't Happen HereSinclair Lewis193511.92
      90Add to wishlist.The Joy Luck ClubAmy Tan198911.92
      91Add to wishlist.Infinite JestDavid Foster Wallace199611.92
      92Add to wishlist.The GeniusTheodore Dreiser191511.87
      93Add to wishlist.Goodbye, ColumbusPhilip Roth195911.83
      94Add to wishlist.The Member of the WeddingCarson McCullers194611.83
      95Add to wishlist.All That IsJames Salter201311.83
      96Add to wishlist.This Side of ParadiseF. Scott Fitzgerald192011.75
      97Add to wishlist.Love StoryErich Segal197011.75
      98Add to wishlist.The GoldfinchDonna Tartt201311.70
      99Add to wishlist.The Sound and the FuryWilliam Faulkner192911.70
      100Add to wishlist.The Good EarthPearl S. Buck193111.70


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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.

          We apply a slightly different n-gram frequency correction to New York Times citation counts. These are marked with a dagger, where applicable.


          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 double dagger.