Originally Posted by holymadness
What the heck happened?
I agree with Fat Abe: nothing happened.
Harold Bell Wright, Booth Tarkington, Zane Grey, Gertrude Atherton were among several listed who wrote popular fiction, but probably not of outstanding literary value. There are few of any era that I would nominate for MR's Literary Book Club.
These are just the books that people most enjoyed reading (or succumbed to the hype) and were willing to buy. I think only a few are outstanding, and most just entertained people. I probably intentionally read only 1 in 10 books (if that) of outstanding literary value, and I choose the rest in the hope they will simply make me happy. It's wonderful when a book, like The Good Earth, meets both goals.
I really don't see any overall decline in taste, although I feel a tad snobbish about Fifty Shades. Surely Forever Amber does not exceed any of Grisham's books in literary value.