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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      AMERICAN FICTION 1700-2020

      1Add to wishlist.The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald192525.04
      2Add to wishlist.Moby DickHerman Melville185122.98
      3Add to wishlist.BelovedToni Morrison198721.45
      4Add to wishlist.TwilightStephenie Meyer200521.38
      5Add to wishlist.Gone with the WindMargaret Mitchell193620.95
      6Add to wishlist.The Da Vinci CodeDan Brown200320.10
      7Add to wishlist.Invisible ManRalph Ellison195219.95
      8Add to wishlist.The Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck193919.52
      9Add to wishlist.RagtimeE. L. Doctorow197519.39
      10Add to wishlist.To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee196019.08
      11Add to wishlist.Main StreetSinclair Lewis192019.08
      12Add to wishlist.Water for ElephantsSara Gruen200619.03
      13Add to wishlist.Catch-22Joseph Heller196118.73
      14Add to wishlist.The Hunger GamesSuzanne Collins200818.36
      15Add to wishlist.The Kite RunnerKhaled Hosseini200318.22
      16Add to wishlist.The Bonfire of the VanitiesTom Wolfe198717.61
      17Add to wishlist.Uncle Tom's CabinHarriet Beecher Stowe185217.49
      18Add to wishlist.RootsAlex Haley197617.49NYT corpus frequency correction applied.*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      19Add to wishlist.a, A NovelAndy Warhol196817.47NYT corpus frequency correction applied.
      20Add to wishlist.LolitaVladimir Nabokov195517.35
      21Add to wishlist.DuneFrank Herbert196517.29
      22Add to wishlist.The ShiningStephen King197717.15
      23Add to wishlist.Washington SquareHenry James188017.09
      24Add to wishlist.Jurassic ParkMichael Crichton199016.76
      25Add to wishlist.BabbittSinclair Lewis192216.61
      26Add to wishlist.CarrieStephen King197416.49
      27Add to wishlist.The Color PurpleAlice Walker198216.28
      28Add to wishlist.The Turn of the ScrewHenry James189816.03
      29Add to wishlist.JawsPeter Benchley197415.94
      30Add to wishlist.Of Mice and MenJohn Steinbeck193715.91
      31Add to wishlist.Gone GirlGillian Flynn201215.87
      32Add to wishlist.A Dance With DragonsGeorge R. R. Martin201115.65
      33Add to wishlist.The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianSherman Alexie200715.52
      34Add to wishlist.The Hunt for Red OctoberTom Clancy198415.46
      35Add to wishlist.The CorrectionsJonathan Franzen200115.39
      36Add to wishlist.The Lovely BonesAlice Sebold200215.39
      37Add to wishlist.One Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestKen Kesey196215.33
      38Add to wishlist.The Sun Also RisesErnest Hemingway192615.30
      39Add to wishlist.Native SonRichard Wright194015.17
      40Add to wishlist.The Bridges of Madison CountyRobert James Waller199215.03
      41Add to wishlist.Adventures of Huckleberry FinnMark Twain188414.87
      42Add to wishlist.Cold MountainCharles Frazier199714.80
      43Add to wishlist.Little WomenLouisa May Alcott186914.66
      44Add to wishlist.The Catcher in the RyeJ. D. Salinger195114.66
      45Add to wishlist.HerzogSaul Bellow196414.63
      46Add to wishlist.Look Homeward, AngelThomas Wolfe192914.53
      47Add to wishlist.American PsychoBret Easton Ellis199114.49
      48Add to wishlist.The AmbassadorsHenry James190314.46
      49Add to wishlist.The Fault in Our StarsJohn Green201214.42
      50Add to wishlist.The JungleUpton Sinclair190614.39
      51Add to wishlist.U.S.A.John Dos Passos193814.32
      52Add to wishlist.Slaughterhouse-FiveKurt Vonnegut196914.14
      53Add to wishlist.The Age of InnocenceEdith Wharton192014.07
      54Add to wishlist.Portnoy's ComplaintPhilip Roth196914.04
      55Add to wishlist.Memoirs of a GeishaArthur Golden199714.04
      56Add to wishlist.The Naked and the DeadNorman Mailer194814.00
      57Add to wishlist.A Storm Of SwordsGeorge R. R. Martin200013.89
      58Add to wishlist.The World According to GarpJohn Irving197813.86
      59Add to wishlist.The Old Man and the SeaErnest Hemingway195213.78
      60Add to wishlist.The NotebookNicholas Sparks199613.75
      61Add to wishlist.Lonesome DoveLarry McMurtry198513.71
      62Add to wishlist.The EuropeansHenry James187813.67
      63Add to wishlist.Guys and DollsDamon Runyon193213.64
      64Add to wishlist.The PearlJohn Steinbeck194713.56
      65Add to wishlist.The Scarlet LetterNathaniel Hawthorne185013.53
      66Add to wishlist.The Secret Life of BeesSue Monk Kidd200213.53
      67Add to wishlist.The Red Badge of CourageStephen Crane189513.45
      68Add to wishlist.The Portrait of a LadyHenry James188113.42
      69Add to wishlist.A Feast For CrowsGeorge R. R. Martin200513.23
      70Add to wishlist.JazzToni Morrison199213.15
      71Add to wishlist.Fear of FlyingErica Jong197313.00
      72Add to wishlist.ArrowsmithSinclair Lewis192512.96
      73Add to wishlist.The House of MirthEdith Wharton190512.96
      74Add to wishlist.The Big SleepRaymond Chandler193912.85
      75Add to wishlist.The Wonderful Wizard of OzL. Frank Baum190012.73
      76Add to wishlist.Gentlemen Prefer BlondesAnita Loos192512.73
      77Add to wishlist.The Silence of the LambsThomas Harris198812.73
      78Add to wishlist.Breakfast at Tiffany'sTruman Capote195812.73
      79Add to wishlist.Left BehindTim LaHaye199512.69
      80Add to wishlist.Tropic of CancerHenry Miller193412.69
      81Add to wishlist.UnderworldDon DeLillo199712.61
      82Add to wishlist.The FallsJoyce Carol Oates200412.57
      83Add to wishlist.The Clan of the Cave BearJean M. Auel198012.49
      84Add to wishlist.For Whom the Bell TollsErnest Hemingway194012.49
      85Add to wishlist.Tender is the NightF. Scott Fitzgerald193412.49
      86Add to wishlist.Humboldt's GiftSaul Bellow197512.45
      87Add to wishlist.Atlas ShruggedAyn Rand195712.41
      88Add to wishlist.The FountainheadAyn Rand194312.41
      89Add to wishlist.Charlotte's WebE. B. White195212.37
      90Add to wishlist.The GodfatherMario Puzo196912.29
      91Add to wishlist.The Maltese FalconDashiell Hammett193012.25
      92Add to wishlist.Elmer GantrySinclair Lewis192612.25
      93Add to wishlist.The Tiger's WifeTea Obreht201112.21
      94Add to wishlist.All the King's MenRobert Penn Warren194612.12
      95Add to wishlist.Jonathan Livingston SeagullRichard Bach197012.12
      96Add to wishlist.From Here to EternityJames Jones195112.08
      97Add to wishlist.A Tree Grows in BrooklynBetty Smith194311.96
      98Add to wishlist.The Joy Luck ClubAmy Tan198911.92
      99Add to wishlist.Winesburg, OhioSherwood Anderson191911.92
      100Add to wishlist.Infinite JestDavid Foster Wallace199611.92


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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.