I love things like this. I've got into some of my favourite things via creators of things I've loved recommending them - following the trails to interesting places. Because if they've inspired something you've loved, they've got to be pretty good, yeah? That thought process has lead me to everything from Vonnegut to the Buzzcocks to Nethack.
Anyway, Gametap asked Ken Levine for his list of works which kept the Irrational team's creative engines fully stoked up. For example...
Animal Farm: (Book, 1945)
"You really only need to read this one book to understand power and what it does to people; it's the ultimate story of what happens when ideals slam into less than ideal people."
Miller's Crossing (Film, 1990)
"My favorite film of all time. It's all dialogue, style, and more interconnected plot threads than you can possibly comprehend in one viewing; probably why I've seen it 20 times. A huge inspiration when trying to create the slang and language tonality of the city of Rapture."
More in the full article including the music-inspiring Sweet and Lowdown, the Rand double-combo of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, the entire city of New York and Gilliam's retro-sci-fi opus Brazil (For the record, which is in at least half of RPS' staffs' top 5 films ever).