Much of what has been written in the press (and formerly on e2) about this book misses the point of this book. The unstated point
of the book is that these fifty books are so widely known
, so widely read
, so widely parodied
and their stories so widely rehashed
that we wouldn't notice if we suddenly didn't have them since we'd always have a rehash
or vague memory
to understand a reference to them.
There is actually a name for this process where books and ideas become so well known they are no longer directly referenced. It's called the obliteration phenomenon.