In my opinion, fiction authors have one of two intentions when they write a book.
- To entertain
- To create art for art’s sake
Now, obviously, most authors include a little of both. To me it’s kind of like a continuum with super artsy books like The Color Purple or The Goldfinch on one side, books like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies or The Princess Diaries on the other side, and the vast majority of books falling somewhere in the middle.
Interestingly, I think this same idea applies to most forms of art, especially movies and music.
Clearly there are additional intentions an author might have for their book. They might want to educate, or to move you emotionally, or to satirize. But I would argue all those are in addition to art or entertainment, not separate from.
So my question is: which is better?
Clearly, a ridiculous question. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. And besides, different people like different things! Better is an opinion and we’re all entitled to our own. Yet… obviously the “genre” literary fiction wouldn’t exist if a great number of people didn’t think one was more worthwhile than the other. MY opinion is that’s hogwash. Pure snobbery.
Better question: which do you like better?
Personally, I like to be entertained by my books. I love anything that will make me laugh, wild adventure rides, romances that make my heart melt, and anything fun. But I would put most of my favorites midway down the spectrum. They still have something meaningful and artistic to offer, in addition to being entertaining as heck. But that’s me.
What about you? Let me know in the comments!