I ask this question mainly because sometimes I see a rift between what is considered "good writing" and what I like (and to take that even further, what I like and consider a book that makes you think...these are the rarest. I like older books for this purpose, such as Vonnegut's and Conrad's for a few examples). I have read a lot of books that win the usual prizes (such as Pulitzer etc... or the author in the case of the Nobel) for literature and usually find myself gravely disappointed. Not in the "oh they can't write" sense--because usually they can write, and very well--but in the sense the book doesn't inspire thought or expand my world in some way... and if it doesn't do that why not just read a genre book that will hook you? Beautiful sentences, when strung together, do not necessarily make a good book. That's my opinion.
Of course I think it's the opinion of "history" that these books that gain the approval of modern day critics are not remembered in the decades to come. Take a look at the Pulitzer prize winners from the past. At best I recognize one book every decade (though this may just be a symptom of my ignorance.. let me know if so). The rest are simply unknown (if someone has actually read them please let me know). That should at least put things in perspective.
A lot of years go by when I don't think much of the books that I read. Especially from contemporary authors, and especially from those that are deemed "great" by the establishment (note I have no clue what this establishment is exactly...). They may be good, or good enough, but nothing in the realm of thought provoking.
That is what I believe should be the goal of the "literary" community (especially the ones who hold their noses to the genre books). Any thoughts?