Two books are in my number 4 slot: John P. Meier's A Marginal Jew and E. P. Sanders' The Historical Figure of Jesus. Both books are representative of the continuing quest by scholars to document the historical Jesus.
Several years ago, I began to read about the renewed interest in historical Jesus studies. I started asking myself how much I knew about Jesus beyond the church's doctrinal assertions and a few favorite gospel passages. In looking at my personal library, I quickly observed how few books were focused on Jesus, and I concluded I needed to really work on learning more about the one I try to follow.
The books by Meier and Sanders started me on my own personal quest--still in progress.
Book Notes: Sanders' more substantial and detailed work on the historical Jesus is his Jesus and Judaism. Meier's original work published in 1991 has now grown to four volumes, with a fifth in preparation. His recent volume 4 release, Law and Love, deals with Jesus' teaching on the Mosaic Law and morality..