Gödel, Escher, Bach. Anniversary Edition: An Eternal Golden Braid

Publisher: Basic Books

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Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter. Maths, intelligence, consciousness and a Pulitzer Prize. The perfect cafe conversation starter. I knew a guy a uni who used this book to pick up girls.

-- Simon Pampena

I'm a nerd in my mid-40s, which means that Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach loomed enormously over my childhood. (And also the immediate follow-ups, Metamagical Themas and The Mind's I.) Do I need to explain this? It's about logic, computer programming, artificial intelligence, philosophy, music, art, symmetry, mathematics... not in depth, but whatever is most fun about each of those topics. I could open it at any spot and be in a playground of ideas.

-- Andrew Plotkin

Then there was Gödel, Escher, Bach, this time in English (I grew older, I was 19 when I grabbed it first). I knew about Douglas Hofstadter because he was the successor of Martin Gardner in the column on Scientific American. I found the book in the library of Scuola Normale Superiore (hidden in the attic, philosophy (!) section) and perused it. From that book I first discovered the holistic approach to writing: you may talk about serious science and be at the same time lively and funny. When I knew that an Italian translation was published, my first comment was "How did they manage to translate it?"; never would I have thought that I'd going to wind up as a translator of Hofstadter!

-- Maurizio Codogno

Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstader. As I read this book, I finally understood what it was that I loved about programming, and why it would be my career. I was mired in the engineering year of a CS/Engineering double degree at the time, but the beauty and elegance and intricacy that "GEB" revels in resonated so strongly with me that I resolved at once to give up the engineering and focus entirely on the computer science. Looking back, it was a watershed moment in my young life.

-- Damian Conway

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