When I was a chef for the Jesuits I collected over 300 cook books and spent five years diving into every cuisine you can imagine. The Jesuits were an amazing group to cook for. They were well traveled and enjoyed great food. Their appreciation for my exploration into different cuisines became an obsession and I rarely cooked anything twice. When I would try something new for the Jesuits, I'd pull out 20 books and see how the different chefs approached the same dish. I'd look for thematic similarities and the differences that each chef would add. This inspired me to learn what they'd done and add my own take.
One of the tricks I've learned over the past few years is to use Google Image search to help me in researching new dishes. I combine those results with Pinterest and have found that an hour or two can easily pass before I come up for air.