I love thrillers that keep me on the edge of my seat. Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Clive Barker, and I also enjoy anything that has to do with Vampires.
Any sort. An article on something in a magazine, a book about lighthouses; folk tales from some other cultures. Really, anything. I've sat in an audience listening to someone recite a poem and found inspiration in a line they've read.
Reading that makes me jealous -- when I see a writer accomplish something that I've been struggling for, and makes it seem effortless, I become enraged and awed and inspired to challenge that writer in battle.
Poetry, of course, but most of my material comes from reading focused books of history on say, the cholera epidemic in London which provided the opportunity to prove the disease was waterborne. History of Science is much more interesting to me than literary history. For me, literature and especially poetry is an ongoing conversation, and Pope seems to struggle with the same things Ginsberg did, and I do today.
It's pulp fiction that interests me, and I find that it crosses many genres almost seamlessly. I rarely think about "genre" anyway. I write what I want to write and leave marketing labels to the publishers. That said, there -is- indeed a freedom in writing about the supernatural where, instead of having a man come in with a gun to get the scene moving, you can have any manner of things going on as long as you can explain them away to the reader's satisfaction. The verisimilitude matters though -- the reader has to -believe-, and that can be difficult to pull off.
The voice of a particular writer and particular book which, at the time, somehow triggers something in me. In the present book, the voice in Rachel Cusk in The Bradshaw Variations sparked the flow of a second draft. Something about its interiority was useful, when my characterisation was too external. For the next draft it might be someone else altogether.
I read somewhere that David Malouf said once, 'For every book there is a touchstone sentence'. Books I read while writing often act as that 'touchstone' for me.
Often my writing gets an injection of energy from my reading something utterly unlike my own voice. At the moment Lionel Shriver's polemical, kick-arse prose is giving my character a bit of a jolt he needs.
All reading inspires me to write. However, even more than reading, being immersed in the social struggles of my time and being connected to other human beings and wanting to share my thoughts with you inspires me to write.
Any kind that's well-written and draws me into the story.
I must admit, though, that most of what inspires me to write comes from my response, or, rather, the response of a character coming to fruition in my mind, to what's going on around me - a family situation, a news item, a line from a song, something someone says, etc.
I like looking at the background to news stories, or people in the news, to see how the past might have shaped the present. All things are linked to a point or place of origin, and by investigating this, you gain a greater understanding of the world around you. Therefore I read a fair amount of current affairs, particularly in newspapers.
Weirdly the book that most inspires me to write is The Fellowship of the Ring, the first book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I say weirdly because I can't penetrate it more than a few pages before I'm off writing. To this day, I have not read the Lord of the Rings, and I' fairly sure I'd enjoy it.
Generally though, I take my inspiration from any book, I sometimes have to be careful that I don't end up straying too closely to a particular book I've read because its fired my imagination in that direction. My tactic these days is to try and focus inspiration from multiple books of different genres and styles, and try to cultivate my inspiration into an original outlet.
I am inspired by real lives, not from books. No the human soul is my inspiration.How I am feeling, within, and how those around me react to their lives. No books do not inspire my writing.
I've reached that very disillusioned space as a writer where I read as a writer, always looking at how better writers handle a scene or time or characterization. It is not inspirational at all, simply looking at how to do it better myself.
Any kind of reading really - any short or long story. I do tend to find that if I have a good fiction book to read then it fires up my writing juices as it were, especially if the book touches on the themes or narrative arcs that apply to my own stories or characters.
I tend to need to read to keep writing well at a good pace. If I've not read a good book in a while, I tend to get lazy with my writing.
Philisophical and spiritual fiction inspires me the most. A story that explores the mysterious spiritual and emotional side of human motives and actions makes me evaluate myself in a way that nothing else can. Till We Have Faces by C. S. Lewis is a favorite of mine. It has one of the most beautiful illustrations of faith and what happens when that faith is thrown away. I wrote a poem called Word Weaver after reading this novel.
Allegories are literal and imaginary-with-substance, so to speak. I often read non-fiction on Christian themes in order to use sound concepts. Knowledge is inexhaustible, and it tempts me to want more and more. Meditating on these subjects brings about characterization, conflicts, inspiration and questions.
I love poetry too because of the mystery where a few short lines can hit the heart, never to be the same again.