So, I really want to write some separate blog posts on each of these books, and I’m working on one right now, and am currently reading the others still, but I wanted to get these out there as books that I think are worth peoples time to read.
The following books aren't given in any specific order.
Understanding the Book of Mormon by Grant Hardy--This is a literary analysis of the Book of Mormon, but different than anything to date. Grant Hardy analyzes the three compilers/editors of the Book of Mormon--Nephi, Mormon and Moroni. I’m almost half way through this.
Of God and Gods by Blake T. Ostler--A theological/philosophical analysis, defense, comparison and explanation of the Godhead and Deification in Mormon thought. I’m about ⅔ of the way through this. Some of the philosophical and theological arguments take quite a bit of mental gymnastics. The scriptural arguments are gold.
In God’s Image and Likeness 1&2 by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and David J. Larsen--These books are the best “commentaries” that exist on the Pearl of Great Price. Hands down. They are compilations of history, scholars (Mormon and not), science and art from all cultures. It has to be seen to be appreciated.
Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Bushman--The best scholarly handling of the Prophet Joseph Smith. “Warts and all” as I've heard said about it many times is accurate. I really enjoy seeing how the good the times and bad times were handled. Growing pains were just that, pains.
Opening the Heavens edited by John Welch--The first hand, second hand, third hand, etc...accounts of the translation of the Book of Mormon. The accounts of the first vision. The accounts of the restoration of the Priesthood. This book’s strength is in the accounts, both good and bad. The introduction articles to each set of accounts is also very good and informative.
By the Hand of Mormon by Terryl Givens--Fantastic scholarly work on the Book of Mormon’s translation, archaeology, critics and the concept of revelation as introduced by Joseph Smith (it’s one of my favorite chapters and favorite ideas, dialogic revelation). I have read this one completely and am working on a review for it.