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on 29 August 2008
Like no other book I've read before, Godel, Escher, Bach really made me think. An incredibly clever author, dealing with hard to explain issues (- consciousness and identity primarily), Hofstadter still manages to keep the reader interested and entertained (mostly) throughout. Having said that, it's not an easy read or a relaxing read- I felt like I'd been put through a gruelling mental workout after most chapters. But... no pain, no gain I suppose, as the rewards are well worth it in the end.
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on 1 August 2007
I read this when it was published back in '79 and it helped inspire me to more fully understand the massive achievments of Kurt Godel and his quite astonishing incompletness theorem.
For the casual reader, this is a wonderful book that will inspire you and give you a glimpse into the unsettling world of axiomatic set theory and it's uncany relationship to the music of Bach and the artistry of Esher.
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on 10 July 2000
This is a fearsomely complex book. the ideas and issues it raises and discusses are vast, however it is never less than readable and is always stimulating. I have no experience with maths since school but I could follow the logic, and to some extent the systems. It is a book I will read again and again. And get other people to read just so I can talk to them about it.
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on 19 June 2007
A wonderful book well worth reading.

I feel obliged to note that, contrary to a previous review, the book supplied to me had not lost '...the aesthetic appeal the previous editions had'. In fact, the paper quality was not '...really bad', but rather good, and the pages were certainly not '...almost transparent'. The book's size is very similar to a previous edition I have encountered and the margins are not smaller than they should be. I really cannot find fault with this edition of the book and strongly recommend that you buy a copy.
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on 21 February 2013
My favorite book ever! Well worth a look at for anyone interested in logic. It is a little hard to read and understand at times but I know I will go back to this book again and again throughout my life to dip into and try to understand. It is a truly beautiful book!
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on 21 July 2001
Douglas R Hofstadter has changed the life of millions with this one. He spends the first 3/4 of the book giving the reader a grounding in stuff that allows you to understand the latter parts. And the journey is dead interesting on the way. You dont have to understand the lot to make progress. In fact, every other chapter is a dialogue between cartoon-like characters that gives you a feel for the topics he's explaining. And they're fun to read (keep an eye out for the puzzles he hides in the text - when you spot them, you understand even better). All in all a book filled with strange loopiness, just like life. Enjoy, I and a number of friends all did...
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On reading Iain Mcgilchrist' Master and his Emissary, I see the trouble with this sort of book. Douglas R. Hofstadter is a classic left brain sort of guy. I won't get into all this here, but I will like to mention that the implications of the brain science will never be accepted. Sam Harris talks about this in his latest book. We happily accept AI and parallel universes and we even accept that we have no free will (from brain science), but the idea that we can be half blind (also from brain science) will, by definition, be not noticed, let alone accepted.

Many 1 star reviews (Amazon Com) have pointed out that this book is way too long and very self indulgent. I bought it anyway. Douglas R. Hofstadter has written a feast of ideas and brilliance and the book is packed with artwork. I even enjoyed the dialogues.

The only trouble is, when Einstein said that he can explain his theory to a 7 year old, he meant that a guy who really knows, can encapsulate his position in a short and sweet manner. Obviously Hofstadter knows, so what's the beaf? Today we can say that a right hemisphere guy can explain it to a 7 year old. A left hemisphere guy will enjoy pages upon pages of tight logical, almost algorithmic, excess. You don't need an entire page to quote an 18 century man talking about he promise of a machine being able to beat J.S. Bach at music, followed then half a page quoting a guy who reckons the music of J'S Bach is not reducable to an algorithm because of the transcendental element contained (think Godel here). Just say it in one page man! Also, the page long quotes are in a very small font, thus, the book should have been even thicker!

Kurt Godel's theorem, and why it matters, and the overthrow of the apparent truths of Euclid, which is more important that Godel, and the transcendental will one day be explained in under 200 pages and become a best seller. Alas, people who know about those things probably won't need to dive into this book and those who don't know will only get frustrated by a thick jungle of words and logical symbols.

If Douglas R. Hofstadter had something else to say in this big book, he should just say it!

Overall this book feels like, well, have you ever watched one of those documentaries about those annoying child prodigies who can do advanced tensors, flip pancakes, and read a thick book in 22 minutes whilst talking to the camera? Well Douglas R. Hofstadter was one such prodigy. He is in love with his brilliance and at the beginning, he brags that he can think in French and English at the same time!
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on 13 March 2012
Powerful stuff. Really makes you think about thinking. Hard going at times but its a huge subject so stick to it. The clever uses of "dialogues" clearly demonstrate what follows - if you don't believe me - read the dialogue - read what follows - then read the dialogue again. Is it the same dialogue or has it changed?
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on 24 January 2015
This is one of my favourite books. If you like thinking, you will enjoy it!
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on 3 April 2012
I am doing paradoxes in art for my Masters and this is a key book. I've always been fascinated in strange loops but terrible at maths, and so my mind tends to glaze over anything that veers into algebra - but he keeps it grounded in normal language for the layman to understand. Don't skip the forward for the republished version as it helps to know what his main argument is (because he says his book is often misunderstood), and it provides a background to take in the rest of the book.
I find it surprisingly easy to understand but then I could have misunderstood it and not know...

If you like paradoxes and the work of Escher you will love it.
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