However, I've been enjoying Robert Godfrey's new book, John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor. It's clear and concise, giving just the right amount of historical background, biographical narrative, and numerous quotes from Calvin's own writing. If you only read one introduction on Calvin, I think this is now the one to get.
The Contents and the Introduction, Chapter 1 are available online for free to read.
Dr. Godfrey writes:
This book is an introduction to the life and thought of John Calvin. It aims at communicating Calvin’s passion and faith through extensive quotations from his works so that something of the force and eloquence of his language can be experienced by the reader. He moved millions not through the power of his personality but through the power of his biblical ideas and words. This book focuses on the essential Calvin, a man who lived out his Christian faith as a pilgrim and a pastor.And a few blurbs:
"A masterful treatment of John Calvin by a masterful church historian."--R. C. Sproul
"Arguably the best introduction to the life and ministry of John Calvin by one of the Reformed world's best interpreters of the Reformation. For anyone wondering what the fuss is over the five-hundredth anniversary of Calvin's birth, this is the place to start."--D. G. Hart
"John Calvin: Pilgrim and Pastor will surely rank among the best introductions to the life and thought of one of the church's greatest theologians. . . . Dr. Robert Godfrey's mature scholarship, enthusiasm for his subject, and easy style bring Calvin to life for the twenty-first-century reader. Here is a rare book indeed, making it easy to see why the Great Genevan Reformer was such an inspiration to those who knew and loved him."--Sinclair B. Ferguson
"More than accessible, this book is interesting even for those who know nothing about Calvin or his significant labors. . . . Professor Godfrey places the reformer in his context and does not hide his blemishes. I owe a great deal of my own formative understanding of Calvin to Robert Godfrey and hope for a wide readership of this important book."--Michael Horton