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.


Include only works published between and .

Algorithm Modifications

Change the weight of these data points in order to change the shape of your canon.


Image of William Faulkner smoking a pipe with red text overlaid that says 'William Faulkner?'Image of William Faulkner smoking a pipe.


1Add to wishlist.BelovedToni Morrison198797.14
2Add to wishlist.Invisible ManRalph Ellison195291.65
3Add to wishlist.The Sound and the FuryWilliam Faulkner192984.12
4Add to wishlist.The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald192583.40
5Add to wishlist.Native SonRichard Wright194074.06
6Add to wishlist.The AmbassadorsHenry James190369.07
7Add to wishlist.The Golden BowlHenry James190467.89
8Add to wishlist.Light in AugustWilliam Faulkner193266.75
9Add to wishlist.Their Eyes Were Watching GodZora Neale Hurston193763.75
10Add to wishlist.JazzToni Morrison199262.28
11Add to wishlist.The Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck193962.00
12Add to wishlist.As I Lay DyingWilliam Faulkner193061.95
13Add to wishlist.Absalom, Absalom!William Faulkner193661.75
14Add to wishlist.A Farewell to ArmsErnest Hemingway192960.66
15Add to wishlist.The Wings of the DoveHenry James190260.47
16Add to wishlist.NeuromancerWilliam Gibson198460.37
17Add to wishlist.LolitaVladimir Nabokov195560.08
18Add to wishlist.The Color PurpleAlice Walker198259.59
19Add to wishlist.The Bluest EyeToni Morrison197059.51
20Add to wishlist.The Sun Also RisesErnest Hemingway192658.75
21Add to wishlist.Go Down, MosesWilliam Faulkner194257.63
22Add to wishlist.Sister CarrieTheodore Dreiser190056.99
23Add to wishlist.Gravity's RainbowThomas Pynchon197356.29
24Add to wishlist.VirginiaEllen Glasgow191354.41
25Add to wishlist.On the RoadJack Kerouac195753.64
26Add to wishlist.Song of SolomonToni Morrison197752.23
27Add to wishlist.LETTERSJohn Barth197951.09
28Add to wishlist.SulaToni Morrison197349.81
29Add to wishlist.The Crying of Lot 49Thomas Pynchon196649.33
30Add to wishlist.Requiem for a NunWilliam Faulkner195149.17
31Add to wishlist.CaneJean Toomer192349.17
32Add to wishlist.The House of MirthEdith Wharton190549.13
33Add to wishlist.In Our TimeErnest Hemingway192549.05
34Add to wishlist.The Old Man and the SeaErnest Hemingway195248.61
35Add to wishlist.Tender is the NightF. Scott Fitzgerald193448.10
36Add to wishlist.The HamletWilliam Faulkner194047.86
37Add to wishlist.The Catcher in the RyeJ. D. Salinger195147.40
38Add to wishlist.For Whom the Bell TollsErnest Hemingway194047.30
39Add to wishlist.The Age of InnocenceEdith Wharton192046.80
40Add to wishlist.All the King's MenRobert Penn Warren194646.73
41Add to wishlist.CeremonyLeslie Marmon Silko197746.23*Corpus frequency correction applied.
42Add to wishlist.BabbittSinclair Lewis192246.21
43Add to wishlist.My AntoniaWilla Cather191846.16
44Add to wishlist.SartorisWilliam Faulkner192945.82
45Add to wishlist.PassingNella Larsen192945.52
46Add to wishlist.ParadiseToni Morrison199745.22
47Add to wishlist.Main StreetSinclair Lewis192044.66
48Add to wishlist.U.S.A.John Dos Passos193844.51
49Add to wishlist.An American TragedyTheodore Dreiser192544.39
50Add to wishlist.HerzogSaul Bellow196443.48
51Add to wishlist.Winesburg, OhioSherwood Anderson191943.09
52Add to wishlist.A FableWilliam Faulkner195542.90
53Add to wishlist.Pale FireVladimir Nabokov196242.55
54Add to wishlist.Almanac of the DeadLeslie Marmon Silko199142.34
55Add to wishlist.Slaughterhouse-FiveKurt Vonnegut196942.15
56Add to wishlist.Wise BloodFlannery O'Connor195242.04
57Add to wishlist.To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee196042.01
58Add to wishlist.White NoiseDon DeLillo198541.70
59Add to wishlist.The Professor's HouseWilla Cather192541.50
60Add to wishlist.Catch-22Joseph Heller196141.30
61Add to wishlist.The OctopusFrank Norris190141.09
62Add to wishlist.Intruder in the DustWilliam Faulkner194841.00
63Add to wishlist.Death Comes for the ArchbishopWilla Cather192740.89
64Add to wishlist.The House on Mango StreetSandra Cisneros198440.63
65Add to wishlist.This Side of ParadiseF. Scott Fitzgerald192039.94
66Add to wishlist.Gone with the WindMargaret Mitchell193639.71
67Add to wishlist.Go Tell It on the MountainJames Baldwin195339.57
68Add to wishlist.The Sacred FountHenry James190139.57
69Add to wishlist.Look Homeward, AngelThomas Wolfe192939.55
70Add to wishlist.The Bell JarSylvia Plath196339.20
71Add to wishlist.QuicksandNella Larsen192838.65
72Add to wishlist.The Beast in the JungleHenry James190338.52
73Add to wishlist.NightwoodDjuna Barnes193638.37
74Add to wishlist.The Making of AmericansGertrude Stein192538.06
75Add to wishlist.O Pioneers!Willa Cather191338.03
76Add to wishlist.The Wild PalmsWilliam Faulkner193937.84
77Add to wishlist.Tropic of CancerHenry Miller193437.33
78Add to wishlist.The UnvanquishedWilliam Faulkner193836.96
79Add to wishlist.Tar BabyToni Morrison198136.88
80Add to wishlist.Portnoy's ComplaintPhilip Roth196936.78
81Add to wishlist.Blood MeridianCormac McCarthy198536.76
82Add to wishlist.Of Mice and MenJohn Steinbeck193736.73
83Add to wishlist.Atlas ShruggedAyn Rand195736.68
84Add to wishlist.UnderworldDon DeLillo199736.43
85Add to wishlist.MeridianAlice Walker197636.20
86Add to wishlist.Ethan FromeEdith Wharton191135.72
87Add to wishlist.Another CountryJames Baldwin196235.67
88Add to wishlist.The Song of the LarkWilla Cather191535.66
89Add to wishlist.The Violent Bear It AwayFlannery O'Connor196035.56
90Add to wishlist.The Call of the WildJack London190335.42
91Add to wishlist.House Made of DawnN. Scott Momaday196835.34
92Add to wishlist.Three LivesGertrude Stein190935.12
93Add to wishlist.One Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestKen Kesey196234.78
94Add to wishlist.The Custom of the CountryEdith Wharton191334.77
95Add to wishlist.American PastoralPhilip Roth199734.48
96Add to wishlist.Autobiography of an Ex-Colored ManJames Weldon Johnson191234.37
97Add to wishlist.Lost in the FunhouseJohn Barth196834.29
98Add to wishlist.The MansionWilliam Faulkner195934.08
99Add to wishlist.Soldier's PayWilliam Faulkner192633.85
100Add to wishlist.A Lost LadyWilla Cather192333.84


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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 artificially 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 frequencies 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 artificially 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.