Published in 1979, GEB was said to be the next “On the origin of species”, and I think it still might be. Even though it’s now almost 40 years old, it’s a remarkable book.
It’s one of my all time favourites to get lost in, and honestly, I haven’t finished it. It’s a book with some incredibly deep themes, woven together with a playfulness that breaks up heavy concepts and primes your imagination.
The publisher described the book as:
A metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit of Lewis Carroll.
Using examples from multiple disciplines (mathematics, art, and music), the book aims to explain how incredibly complex things like consciousness, and intelligence can come from simple components.
Each new chapter is introduced with characters in dialogue (mostly Achilles, and a tortoise), where they go on grand adventures getting lost in paintings, summoning djinns, and trying to understand paradoxes, which really help set up the framework for the chapter.
Also, GEB has several hidden riddles throughout the book for you to find if you pay enough attention. This makes translation into other languages difficult, but it really makes me grateful for being able to speak English.
It really is worth a read, if you like thinking about how you think, and find it amazing that you can think about how you think about your thoughts.
Here are the first 3 lectures from MIT thanks to their OpenCourseWare to whet your appetite.