To end my obsessive re-reading of classic computer literature I tossed in Douglas Hofstadter's "I Am A Strange Loop," which really has nothing to do with the topic at all. It's a rigorous explanation of Hofstadter's views on consciousness and "I"-ness, all based on his concept of "strange loops."
A strange loop is a (potentially) infinitely-recursive loop of (potentially) infinite symbols. Many of these symbols are much larger than the loop itself, which is just the beginning of the Gödelian properties they involve. Most importantly, each level of a strange loop can be perceived and analyzed by the levels above it...and out of this strange configuration, says Hofstadter, arises the illusion we call "consciousness."
This is basically a pithy restating of the ideas he presented in 1979's "Gödel, Escher, Bach," with much (though not all) of the mathematical explanations, symbolic logic, and whimsicality removed. I've been through GEB twice and have never gotten as clear a picture of strange loops as I got from "I Am A Strange Loop," so Hofstadter certainly achieved his main goal: to clarify GEB for everybody who didn't "get it."
But even though "I Am A Strange Loop" contains some crucial and rigorously-outlined revelations, I doubt that a non-convert would agree with it (let alone enjoy it). Hofstadter dismisses any dualistic approaches to consciousness (such as an intangible "soul material") and gives us an explanation where "I" am only aware of "I" because "I" am one of many interrelated strange loops in my cranium. The essence of "I" cannot be isolated because it is simply a pattern which arises from situations which allow strange loops; it is not anything mystical or divine (though it IS mysterious and wonderful!) Hofstadter even shows us that "I" cannot be confined to a single brain...and therein lies the humanistic side of his approach.
So those who believe in traditional, consciousness-invoking souls will not enjoy Hofstadter's ruminations, and neither will reductionists who want to actually find and observe the mechanics of consciousness. All who's left are those of us who already sort of believed Hofstadter's ideas before he graced us with a real explanation and an arsenal of terms to use.
If you decide you want to give it a try, "I Am A Strange Loop" is mostly an easy read. Hofstadter repeats and explains his salient points many times, often using half a dozen analogies to define each one (and to show how alternate points of view are much sillier than his are). He also shares many of his own life experiences, not -- as he says in the introduction -- because he's particularly egocentric, but because he believes these life experiences are things we can all relate to. And I think he's right.
If anything, the most difficult thing about this book are Hofstadter's "friendly, informal" quirks -- what he calls his "doggies and bunnies" approach. The puns are bad and the anecdotes intensely personal. This is both a strength and a weakness.
Do I believe in strange loops now? I think they're the best explanation for consciousness that I've ever run across, and they've already changed the way I deal with people...but believing Hofstadter's ideas is not really a springboard to other things. "I Am A Strange Loop" tells you more what consciousness ISN'T, which I think is useful, but knowing what it IS won't have an affect on most people in the long run.