This list is not intended to be exhaustive, only suggestive:
Bio: T. H. L. Parker, John Calvin: A Biography. This is still the standard bio. Several others have appeared since and I suppose more than one will appear in ’09 but this is where I go first.
How to Think About Calvin and the Tradition: Richard Muller, The Unaccommodated Calvin. This is a landmark, one-of-a-kind books. No serious student of Calvin should overlook it.
Calvin’s Theology: Francois Wendel, Calvin: Origins and Development of His Religious Thought . An older survey of Calvin’s theology but it holds up. Unlike other surveys (e.g. Barth’s or Niesel’s) Wendel is more interested in what Calvin thought than in his own program or agenda.
Other excellent Calvin-related titles:
David Steinmetz, Calvin in Context. This is a terrific book. I’m a big Steinmetz fan. He’s one of my favorite scholars and writers because he is so honest and because that sort of honesty is hard to find. He’s also a very good reader of texts and he reads them in their original context.
Herman Selderhuis, Calvin’s Theology of the Psalms. This is a great book. This is a brilliant book. It’s thoughtful, careful, and exegetical. He reads Calvin as Calvin wanted to be read. There are a lot of Calvin books but this quiet entry into the field should be on everyone’s list.
W. De Greef, The Writings of John Calvin: An Introductory Guide. It is a basic step of exegesis to find out when a document was written, to whom, and under what circumstances. It is remarkable how often folk write about Calvin without answering these most rudimentary questions. With this volume your Calvin-exegetical worries are lessened. This invaluable guide tells the reader when and under what circumstances Calvin wrote virtually everything. A must.
Peter Lillback and David Hall, eds. A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes. Usually works of this sort are done by folks in the mainline who may or may not have much sympathy with what Calvin was actually saying. There are a number of strong entries in this volume. It’s a good place to start one’s orientation to one of the Great Books of the Western theological tradition.
Carlos Eire, War Against the Idols: The Reformation of Worship from Erasmus to Calvin. Virtually every other topic in Calvin studies has been dogpiled (one study after another) except worship. This work is not completely focused on Calvin but it is a terrific bit of research and deserves more attention.
Richard Muller, Christ and the Decree. This was a seminal study of a topic that has caused considerable confusion in Calvin studies. With this 1986 volume Muller initiated a revolt against the Calvin v Calvinists status quo in Calvin studies.