I'll do two, one I'm reading now and another I read as a child.
Journey to the West is a really great example of world-building, making an adventuring party, a clearly defined goal (go to the West to deliver some scrolls!) that is continually derailed by fun and thrilling side-quests. It's a great reminder that not every adventure needs to have doom-and-gloom, world-ending or even city-ending stakes... all you got to do is walk across a continent! Filled with memorable encounters, some solved through combat but many others with trickery and diplomacy, there's a lot to learn here and it's a great read (if you like reading truly old-school poetry-novels!). If you need a Western equivalent, pick up the Odyssey, they got a similar shtick!
And childhood book, Eragon. Yeah, it's essentially the plot of Star Wars in Tolkien-world (with a dragon), but who cares we all love it! The latter books get into more developed themes and character arcs, but this first book was a big hit for a reason... it's got the heroes journey nailed down pat, with another world-building trek across the continent.
For me I find the books most inspriring. My wife made the observation that I am literally better at understanding story through books than movie or TV. I miss so much when I watch movies or TV, I get looped in technicalities.
Several books from Andre Norton comes to mind. Inspirational in terms of lots of interesting antagonists, characters, and worlds. She was a prolific, pretty awesome author.
A perennial favorite is the Witch Worldcycle. For an story based on an actual D&D session with Gygax, check out Quag Keep. For a very cool take on an other-world faerie world, check out Dread Companion.