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 .

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      AMERICAN FICTION 1700-2020

      1Add to wishlist.The EuropeansHenry James187833.90
      2Add to wishlist.On the RoadJack Kerouac195729.17
      3Add to wishlist.The Great GatsbyF. Scott Fitzgerald192525.26
      4Add to wishlist.The Da Vinci CodeDan Brown200325.02
      5Add to wishlist.The Color PurpleAlice Walker198224.49
      6Add to wishlist.The Bonfire of the VanitiesTom Wolfe198724.39
      7Add to wishlist.CouplesJohn Updike196823.69
      8Add to wishlist.Moby DickHerman Melville185123.22
      9Add to wishlist.BelovedToni Morrison198722.14
      10Add to wishlist.To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee196021.52
      11Add to wishlist.The HelpKathryn Stockett200921.45
      12Add to wishlist.The NamesDon DeLillo198221.31
      13Add to wishlist.Invisible ManRalph Ellison195220.42
      14Add to wishlist.Gone with the WindMargaret Mitchell193620.15
      15Add to wishlist.The Grapes of WrathJohn Steinbeck193919.62
      16Add to wishlist.RagtimeE. L. Doctorow197519.39
      17Add to wishlist.LolitaVladimir Nabokov195519.39
      18Add to wishlist.Water for ElephantsSara Gruen200619.03
      19Add to wishlist.Catch-22Joseph Heller196118.92
      20Add to wishlist.The Catcher in the RyeJ. D. Salinger195117.89
      21Add to wishlist.The GodfatherMario Puzo196917.69
      22Add to wishlist.Little WomenLouisa May Alcott186917.66
      23Add to wishlist.Uncle Tom's CabinHarriet Beecher Stowe185217.61
      24Add to wishlist.The ShiningStephen King197717.46
      25Add to wishlist.DuneFrank Herbert196517.46
      26Add to wishlist.The CorrectionsJonathan Franzen200117.18
      27Add to wishlist.Washington SquareHenry James188017.12
      28Add to wishlist.Adventures of Huckleberry FinnMark Twain188417.09
      29Add to wishlist.Jurassic ParkMichael Crichton199016.91
      30Add to wishlist.Portnoy's ComplaintPhilip Roth196916.76
      31Add to wishlist.CarrieStephen King197416.67
      32Add to wishlist.The Bridges of Madison CountyRobert James Waller199216.52
      33Add to wishlist.The Age of InnocenceEdith Wharton192016.40
      34Add to wishlist.Slaughterhouse-FiveKurt Vonnegut196916.37
      35Add to wishlist.The HoursMichael Cunningham199816.37
      36Add to wishlist.Of Mice and MenJohn Steinbeck193716.34
      37Add to wishlist.VillagesJohn Updike200416.25
      38Add to wishlist.Lonesome DoveLarry McMurtry198516.19
      39Add to wishlist.JawsPeter Benchley197415.94
      40Add to wishlist.A Dance With DragonsGeorge R. R. Martin201115.65
      41Add to wishlist.Atlas ShruggedAyn Rand195715.62
      42Add to wishlist.JazzToni Morrison199215.59
      43Add to wishlist.Charlotte's WebE. B. White195215.56
      44Add to wishlist.The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianSherman Alexie200715.52
      45Add to wishlist.The Hunt for Red OctoberTom Clancy198415.46
      46Add to wishlist.The Lovely BonesAlice Sebold200215.43
      47Add to wishlist.TwilightStephenie Meyer200515.43
      48Add to wishlist.One Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestKen Kesey196215.39
      49Add to wishlist.The Sun Also RisesErnest Hemingway192615.36
      50Add to wishlist.The Kite RunnerKhaled Hosseini200315.33
      51Add to wishlist.StonerJohn Williams196515.26
      52Add to wishlist.Sophie's ChoiceWilliam Styron197915.26
      53Add to wishlist.Native SonRichard Wright194015.23
      54Add to wishlist.Infinite JestDavid Foster Wallace199615.20
      55Add to wishlist.The House of MirthEdith Wharton190514.90
      56Add to wishlist.Cold MountainCharles Frazier199714.83
      57Add to wishlist.The FountainheadAyn Rand194314.70
      58Add to wishlist.HerzogSaul Bellow196414.66
      59Add to wishlist.The JungleUpton Sinclair190614.59
      60Add to wishlist.The AmbassadorsHenry James190314.49
      61Add to wishlist.American PsychoBret Easton Ellis199114.49
      62Add to wishlist.U.S.A.John Dos Passos193814.39
      63Add to wishlist.Song of SolomonToni Morrison197714.32
      64Add to wishlist.The Turn of the ScrewHenry James189814.32
      65Add to wishlist.Gravity's RainbowThomas Pynchon197314.28
      66Add to wishlist.The VictimSaul Bellow194714.21
      67Add to wishlist.The NotebookNicholas Sparks199614.07
      68Add to wishlist.Memoirs of a GeishaArthur Golden199714.04
      69Add to wishlist.A Storm Of SwordsGeorge R. R. Martin200013.89
      70Add to wishlist.The Old Man and the SeaErnest Hemingway195213.89
      71Add to wishlist.The Hunger GamesSuzanne Collins200813.89
      72Add to wishlist.The World According to GarpJohn Irving197813.86
      73Add to wishlist.Left BehindTim LaHaye199513.82
      74Add to wishlist.Goodbye, ColumbusPhilip Roth195913.82
      75Add to wishlist.Love StoryErich Segal197013.78
      76Add to wishlist.All the King's MenRobert Penn Warren194613.78
      77Add to wishlist.The Joy Luck ClubAmy Tan198913.75
      78Add to wishlist.The Portrait of a LadyHenry James188113.67
      79Add to wishlist.The NaturalBernard Malamud195213.56
      80Add to wishlist.The Scarlet LetterNathaniel Hawthorne185013.53
      81Add to wishlist.The Bell JarSylvia Plath196313.45
      82Add to wishlist.The FallsJoyce Carol Oates200413.42
      83Add to wishlist.The Naked and the DeadNorman Mailer194813.30
      84Add to wishlist.The Plot Against AmericaPhilip Roth200413.27
      85Add to wishlist.A Feast For CrowsGeorge R. R. Martin200513.23
      86Add to wishlist.The MarchE. L. Doctorow200513.19
      87Add to wishlist.The Secret Life of BeesSue Monk Kidd200213.19
      88Add to wishlist.All That IsJames Salter201313.19
      89Add to wishlist.Bright Lights, Big CityJay McInerney198413.11
      90Add to wishlist.Fear of FlyingErica Jong197313.00
      91Add to wishlist.Tropic of CancerHenry Miller193412.92
      92Add to wishlist.Breakfast at Tiffany'sTruman Capote195812.88
      93Add to wishlist.American PastoralPhilip Roth199712.88
      94Add to wishlist.The Big SleepRaymond Chandler193912.85
      95Add to wishlist.The Silence of the LambsThomas Harris198812.81
      96Add to wishlist.GhostsEdith Wharton193712.77
      97Add to wishlist.Guys and DollsDamon Runyon193212.77
      98Add to wishlist.The Bluest EyeToni Morrison197012.77
      99Add to wishlist.The DeepPeter Benchley197612.77
      100Add to wishlist.The Wonderful Wizard of OzL. Frank Baum190012.73


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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.