Never read it all the way through. I know people who have spent 30 years reading and rereading it over and over again, finding new discoveries and nuances each time.
I flipped through it, mesmerized in 1990 the first time I saw it at the university library, and ever since I’d find a copy in a library somewhere and flip through it again, or find quotes online, or look at other things by the author.
One professor I was friends with in 1990 was obsessed with GEB and would mesmerize me with stories about it which probably sparked my interest to begin with. Sadly, he wasn’t my professor. I wanted to get into theoretical physics but I needed a lot of prerequisite courses first that were all full and focused on programming and development psychology instead. But instead I would track him down and talk with him as much as possible, eventually finding a slot so that he became my academic advisor.
Couldn’t finish Hampshire – ran out of money after 18 months (3 semesters). But GEB always hovered in the background and while I can’t think of a single thing in particular from it, I know that a lot of the ideas from it have ruminated and turned over in my mind many times through the years for each time I come across something from the author, I ‘get’ it in a better way each time.
[ps – I’m not the “somebody who read and reread it for 30 years” it’s a friend of mine here on Facebook and we talked about it a few times… – who I think also had a thing for Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which I finally only read myself six months after FIRST having it recommended to me by a science teacher in high school and others through the years.. just didn’t get around to it ’til 6 months ago. That was along similar lines but delving into a different set of issues]