The first is a Gamut of Games by the legendary game historian, designer and collector, Sid Sackson. As Wikipedia puts it:
Many of the games in the book had never before been published. It is considered by many to be an essential text for anyone interested in abstract strategy games, and a number of the rules were later expanded into full-fledged published board games.If Sackson isn't enough for you, there's always David Parlett's comprehensive Oxford History of Board Games. Parlett is also a distinguished game designer, having won the Spiel des Jahres award (which is a big deal for people who follow this sort of thing). When I was designing games, I had a rule: if Parlett didn't have a similar game, I could call an idea original.
I'll have an actual game next week.