When Bad Things Happen to Good People
By Harold S. Kushner
The ''Da Vinci Code" of its day, Kushner's bestseller offers lessons on coping with life's tragedies (Anchor, paperback, $9.95).
The Gnostic Gospels
By Elaine Pagels
A pioneering, award-winning study of early Christian writings that didn't make the cut for inclusion in the Bible (Vintage, paperback, $12).
A History of God: The 4,000-Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
By Karen Armstrong
An academic and former nun's comparative history of various faiths' notions about God (Ballantine, paperback, $15.95).
Understanding the Bible: An Introduction for Skeptics, Seekers, and Religious Liberals
By John A. Buehrens
An admittedly progressive but layperson-friendly introduction from the liberal ex-president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (Beacon, paperback, $14).
By Russell Shorto
Written by a journalist, this overview sums up the state of research into, and divergent opinions about, the real-life Jesus (Riverhead, paperback, $14).
Compiled by Rich Barlow.