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

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      AMERICAN FICTION 1800-2020

      1Add to wishlist.Moby DickHerman Melville1851113.36
      2Add to wishlist.BelovedToni Morrison198797.14
      3Add to wishlist.Invisible ManRalph Ellison195291.65
      4Add to wishlist.The Scarlet LetterNathaniel Hawthorne185089.95
      5Add to wishlist.The Sound and the FuryWilliam Faulkner192984.12
      6Add to wishlist.Adventures of Huckleberry FinnMark Twain188483.87
      7Add to wishlist.The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald192583.40
      8Add to wishlist.The Portrait of a LadyHenry James188177.35
      9Add to wishlist.Uncle Tom's CabinHarriet Beecher Stowe185276.13
      10Add to wishlist.Native SonRichard Wright194074.06
      11Add to wishlist.The AmbassadorsHenry James190369.07
      12Add to wishlist.The Golden BowlHenry James190467.89
      13Add to wishlist.Light in AugustWilliam Faulkner193266.75
      14Add to wishlist.The Turn of the ScrewHenry James189865.56
      15Add to wishlist.Their Eyes Were Watching GodZora Neale Hurston193763.75
      16Add to wishlist.JazzToni Morrison199262.28
      17Add to wishlist.The Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck193962.00
      18Add to wishlist.As I Lay DyingWilliam Faulkner193061.95
      19Add to wishlist.Billy BuddHerman Melville189161.93
      20Add to wishlist.Absalom, Absalom!William Faulkner193661.75
      21Add to wishlist.A Farewell to ArmsErnest Hemingway192960.66
      22Add to wishlist.The Wings of the DoveHenry James190260.47
      23Add to wishlist.NeuromancerWilliam Gibson198460.37
      24Add to wishlist.LolitaVladimir Nabokov195560.08
      25Add to wishlist.The Color PurpleAlice Walker198259.59
      26Add to wishlist.The Bluest EyeToni Morrison197059.51
      27Add to wishlist.The Sun Also RisesErnest Hemingway192658.75
      28Add to wishlist.The House of the Seven GablesNathaniel Hawthorne185158.54
      29Add to wishlist.Go Down, MosesWilliam Faulkner194257.63
      30Add to wishlist.The Red Badge of CourageStephen Crane189557.14
      31Add to wishlist.Sister CarrieTheodore Dreiser190056.99
      32Add to wishlist.Gravity's RainbowThomas Pynchon197356.29
      33Add to wishlist.TypeeHerman Melville184655.91
      34Add to wishlist.The BostoniansHenry James188655.85
      35Add to wishlist.The Confidence-ManHerman Melville185755.24
      36Add to wishlist.VirginiaEllen Glasgow191354.41
      37Add to wishlist.On the RoadJack Kerouac195753.64
      38Add to wishlist.The AwakeningKate Chopin189952.46
      39Add to wishlist.Song of SolomonToni Morrison197752.23
      40Add to wishlist.The Blithedale RomanceNathaniel Hawthorne185251.92
      41Add to wishlist.The Marble FaunNathaniel Hawthorne186051.87
      42Add to wishlist.LETTERSJohn Barth197951.09
      43Add to wishlist.The Adventures of Tom SawyerMark Twain187650.66
      44Add to wishlist.SulaToni Morrison197349.81
      45Add to wishlist.MardiHerman Melville184949.67
      46Add to wishlist.The Crying of Lot 49Thomas Pynchon196649.33
      47Add to wishlist.Requiem for a NunWilliam Faulkner195149.17
      48Add to wishlist.CaneJean Toomer192349.17
      49Add to wishlist.The House of MirthEdith Wharton190549.13
      50Add to wishlist.In Our TimeErnest Hemingway192549.05
      51Add to wishlist.A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's CourtMark Twain188948.97
      52Add to wishlist.The Old Man and the SeaErnest Hemingway195248.61
      53Add to wishlist.Pudd'nhead WilsonMark Twain189448.53
      54Add to wishlist.The Princess CasamassimaHenry James188648.43
      55Add to wishlist.Tender is the NightF. Scott Fitzgerald193448.10
      56Add to wishlist.The HamletWilliam Faulkner194047.86
      57Add to wishlist.Washington SquareHenry James188047.70
      58Add to wishlist.Daisy MillerHenry James187847.53
      59Add to wishlist.The Catcher in the RyeJ. D. Salinger195147.40
      60Add to wishlist.For Whom the Bell TollsErnest Hemingway194047.30
      61Add to wishlist.The Age of InnocenceEdith Wharton192046.80
      62Add to wishlist.Looking BackwardEdward Bellamy188846.78
      63Add to wishlist.All the King's MenRobert Penn Warren194646.73
      64Add to wishlist.Little WomenLouisa May Alcott186946.30
      65Add to wishlist.CeremonyLeslie Marmon Silko197746.23*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      66Add to wishlist.BabbittSinclair Lewis192246.21
      67Add to wishlist.My AntoniaWilla Cather191846.16
      68Add to wishlist.SartorisWilliam Faulkner192945.82
      69Add to wishlist.White-JacketHerman Melville185045.75
      70Add to wishlist.PassingNella Larsen192945.52
      71Add to wishlist.Roderick HudsonHenry James187545.27
      72Add to wishlist.ParadiseToni Morrison199745.22
      73Add to wishlist.Main StreetSinclair Lewis192044.66
      74Add to wishlist.U.S.A.John Dos Passos193844.51
      75Add to wishlist.An American TragedyTheodore Dreiser192544.39
      76Add to wishlist.Benito CerenoHerman Melville185544.21
      77Add to wishlist.HerzogSaul Bellow196443.48
      78Add to wishlist.Winesburg, OhioSherwood Anderson191943.09
      79Add to wishlist.A FableWilliam Faulkner195542.90
      80Add to wishlist.Pale FireVladimir Nabokov196242.55
      81Add to wishlist.Almanac of the DeadLeslie Marmon Silko199142.34
      82Add to wishlist.Slaughterhouse-FiveKurt Vonnegut196942.15
      83Add to wishlist.Wise BloodFlannery O'Connor195242.04
      84Add to wishlist.To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee196042.01
      85Add to wishlist.RedburnHerman Melville184941.99
      86Add to wishlist.The AmericanHenry James187741.84*Corpus frequency correction applied.
      87Add to wishlist.White NoiseDon DeLillo198541.70
      88Add to wishlist.The Professor's HouseWilla Cather192541.50
      89Add to wishlist.Catch-22Joseph Heller196141.30
      90Add to wishlist.The OctopusFrank Norris190141.09
      91Add to wishlist.Intruder in the DustWilliam Faulkner194841.00
      92Add to wishlist.Death Comes for the ArchbishopWilla Cather192740.89
      93Add to wishlist.The House on Mango StreetSandra Cisneros198440.63
      94Add to wishlist.The Tragic MuseHenry James189040.09
      95Add to wishlist.This Side of ParadiseF. Scott Fitzgerald192039.94
      96Add to wishlist.The Prince and the PauperMark Twain188139.84
      97Add to wishlist.Gone with the WindMargaret Mitchell193639.71
      98Add to wishlist.Go Tell It on the MountainJames Baldwin195339.57
      99Add to wishlist.The Sacred FountHenry James190139.57
      100Add to wishlist.Look Homeward, AngelThomas Wolfe192939.55


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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.