Below is a copy-n-paste of my answer. I hope it formats okay on my blog. Other answers here.
I have read creativity texts with the same question in mind. Thank you for asking this so I could gather my thoughts in answering it. I have moved to a different continent recently and lost some books so I really had to hunt for the names of a few. This might be the hardest I have worked to answer a Quora question! Only around 9 books in my list.
Find some relatively weird science fiction and fantasy books. I like Larry Niven - Wikipedia for this: his politics and descriptions of women might reasonably put some people off but his wild ideas about physics and big science open up literal new worlds. Again, the women in Ringworld are mostly there for sex but the Ringworld itself is an amazing invention. I would also add that his aliens are well thought out - again, better than some of the women.
More recently, Martha Wells’ Books of the Raksura Compendium describes a variety of fantasy creatures with remarkable vividness and careful thought. They are not human and only act mostly as humans would. The world they live in is also fantastical.
The Voynich manuscript has been solved, I think. It was a book written in code and found by chance that many have attempted to interpret or translate. Finally it has been and it is a description of various plants. Still, the images and mysterious text make me wonder what it might say. Ignore the real answer and skim through this book, making your own determinations of what it consists of! The Complete Manuscript 1 Page 57v:
I found a book on symbolism in art. It was probably originally written in a foreign language and colourfully translated. There are dozens of such books but this one was great just for its example images. Those images fired up my imagination. I know so little about art that I hesitate to suggest one specific painter or artist. All university students looking to decorate their dorm rooms know or Dali and Escher but there might be others (joke. Of course there are). I just thought of one: Hieronymus Bosch. A book of his work or whatever genre or time period he was in would fire up your imagination as you look at the images and the explanations. Added before publishing: Found it!
From formal to not-that-formal research:
Csikszentmihalyi (spelling is only close) writes many respected books on the subject. His books on genius seem to be, “they have these qualities” rather than “Here is how to get these qualities” so it will inform you but not directly improve your creativity. Here is one: Creativity
I have read Thinkertoys and Cracking Creativity from "MICHAEL MICHALKO" (showing 1-8 of 8 books) and remember liking them.
de Bono’s Creativity Workout is a book I used a lot as a teacher to encourage creativity in my students. I really like this one but I am told that if you have already read de Bono, a lot of this book repeats previous work.
John Medina’s Brain Rules (Brain Rules: Brain development for parents, teachers and business leaders) offers a lot of well researched suggestions.
There are a lot of prompts for creative work out there in book form, from painting prompts to writing prompts and so on. These are often very artform dependent and so might not apply to people in other fields. As well, I have a book on woodcarving techniques and tools that helps me understand how to make things. I don’t always make the objects in the book but the suggestions allow me to make novel things. This means the book - basically recipes for making boxes and knick-knacks - inspires my creativity. Added before publishing: Found it!
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