/lit/ how do you guys define literature? How do you separate it in your mind from just other writing? Can writings start out as non-literature then later become literature? Can the opposite occur?
Would you say there is a similar distinction between art and entertainment? Some music pieces are just kind of fun to listen to, while others are deeply evocative of emotions or perhaps incredibly new in style or composition.
Depth, pretty much. Depth of the thematic content, feeling, the richness of style and mood. That's why the best patricians can enjoy even supermarket-tier schlock on a very high level compared to your average reader.
Literature is the ART of writing, meaning its first purpose is to achieve (or try to achieve) beauty by working the style (choice of words, use of rhetorical figures, overall rhythm, etc.)
Books that have a purely informative purpose or that only aim to entertain the reader are not literature (although the frontier between entertainment and literature is thin and problematic, for a literary book can also be entertaining).