These days I'm enjoying the clean hardboiled prose of people like Richard Stark and Raymond Chandler - the brevity of these guys is amazing in how it carries a story at breakneck pace.
Usually something that makes me shoot whatever I happen to be eating/drinking out my nose. Kidding. I have friends who are inspired by plot and subject matter, which I love, but I must admit, it's just a well-wrought sentence that gets me.
For a story of any kind, structure and organization is incredibly important. This, you can teach. A good editor can help you with this. With strict guidance and good self-awareness, any writer can create a well-plotted piece. Yet, when you break writing down to the base elements, like sentences and word choice, you just can't teach that. Some are born great... and the rest haven't a hope in hell. You can try to be Douglas Coupland, but you likely won't succeed. My entire life is living up to this unattainable goal.
I find Flann O'Brien and Henry Miller to be inspiring for their willingness to try something different. Lecarre's technique is so polished that it inspires me. There are so many writers whose work makes me want to write. A lot of songwriters like Dylan and Mark Knopfler are inspiring as well. There are too many to name but they all have something in their use of English which is inspiring.
Just about anything can inspire me. I may hear two people talking at lunch. I get a lot of ideas from my Dad who tells me old stories about long time ago. I have worked all over and met a lot of characters. They inspire me. I also have a great imagination and just make a lot of stuff up. Inspiration for me can come from anywhere.
I hate to say this, but reading doesn't inspire me to write. I enjoy reading, of course.
Reading non-fiction inspires me to write fiction. Reading fiction -- this is sad -- often discourages me, because I am so in awe of the authors I love, I doubt my ability to ever write as well as they. Reading non-fiction, on the other hand, gives me so many ideas for stories, I have no choice but to write.
Poetry. It is a musical language which naturally provokes the flow of words and images.
I read everything. I love vampire stories. I love wizard stories.
Kim Harrison. Charlaine Harris. Jim Butcher. Anne Rice. Stephen King. Brian Lumley.
But I also love the 'old' stuff. Poe. Kafka. Lovecraft. Shelley. Le Fanu.
I read a ton of poetry and non-fiction too. I read tons of biographies and auto-biographies, true crime, how to, text books, you name it. I love older books. The language is stronger and more evocative.
Since I was a young teen-ager Anais Nin has been one of my heroes.
Metaphysical books and comic novels. I am also influenced by well-researched journalism, biographies on artists of various disciplines, chick literature, and Latin American literature.
I am usually inspired by something that touches me.
I am strange, reading does not inspire me to write. Watching a movie inspires me, The Lord of the Rings always inspires me to write.
I read a lot of different genres but usually prefer fiction to non-fiction. It has to be well-written to engage me the most. If I find myself asking why the writer made certain choices as I'm reading it pulls me away from the story. I love to read the modern classics, and have read a lot of them, but I'm most interested in current fiction. I am reading 'Water For Elephants: A Novel' right now -- historical, well-written, engaging. For non-fiction I love Mary Roach -- 'Stiff' and 'Bonk'. I also like to read food-related books; food memoirs, cookbooks, biographies.
I usually read books that are generically inspiring, i feel i am most relative to that particular genre.
Inspiration comes from many sources. No one subject or genre provides an especially fertile source of ideas. Reading bullshit being offered up as truth gets me going, regardless of the topic. The urge to counter false information is reflexive with me. These days, so much of what's put out there deliberately misinforms, making it impossible to respond to everything. But if it is a subject that strikes a chord, I usually try.