I rewrote this because originally it was a vast laundry list of novels that I had read that have had some influence on what inspires me when I run, read, write and play rpgs but I rewrote parts of it to both A) reflect my current inspirational material and get rid of all the smatterings and B) parse it down somewhat since time is limited and there is only so much you can read on this earth.
What follows is a fairly standard list of mostly essential works, the majority being derived from Appendix N, followed by some recent works that I found particularly memorable or inspiring even after a long time.
The Prince of Nothing Series, the Aspect-Emperor Series – R.Scott Baker
Faffhrd & the Grey Mouser (ignore Knight and Knave of Swords collection) – Fritz Leiber
Tales of the Dying Earth, Lyonesse – Jack Vance (exclude Rhialto the Marvelous)
The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, the Silmarillion – J.R.R Tolkien
Conan the Barbarian, Solomon Kane – R.E Howard
Dune (and its sequels) – F.Herbert
Storm (original run, comics) – Don Lawrence
Clark Ashton Smith – Zothique, Poseidonis, Xiccarph, Averoigne, Hyperborea
Berserk (manga) -Kentaro Miura
Chronicles of Amber, Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny
Dwellers in the Mirage, The Moon Pool, The Ship of Ishtar, The Metal Monster – A.Merrit
The Broken Sword – P.Anderson
H.P Lovecraft – Various (The Mound, Mountains of Madness, Call of Cthulhu, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, Dreams in the Witch House etc. etc.).
Hawkmoon, Corum, Elric (excluding Revenge of the Rose and the Dreamthief’s Daughter), Erëkose – Michael Moorcock
The Worm Ouroboros – E.R.R Eddison
Viriconium – M.J.Harrison
Hyperion Cantos, Illium, Olympus – Dan Simmons
The Book of the New Sun – G.Wolfe
The Night Land – William Hope Hodginson
Darkness Weaves, Bloodstone – K.E.Wagner
The Illiad – Homer
History of the Peloponesian War – Thucydides
Stone Dance of the Chameleon Trilogy – Ricardo Pinto
God Killers – L.Sharp
The Epic of Gilgamesh – Unknown
Game of Thrones – G.R.R. Martin
Faust – Goethe
Roadside Picnic – Boris Strugatsky
BLAME! – Tsumoto Nihei
For more lowbrow or derivative works that nevertheless manage to convey and sustain a great deal of atmosphere and flavor in their make-up, I would be remiss if I did not point people to Warhammer 40k and Warhammer Fantasy, Sapkowski’s Witcher Novels and the Darkest Dungeon video game.