When it comes to an easy and fascinating read from scholars, I highly recommend Elaine Pagels (I took several Jesus, NT courses with her). Her latest book is on Revelation. Revelation scared me to the nth degree until I was present when she lectured about it. Her lecture took five tons off my back and removed any terror completely. Karen Armstrong is another compelling reason. If you pick up the flavor from Pagels and Ehrman, one of the best books I read was a discussion between N.T. Wright and Marcus Borg. Both are practicing Christians, studied under the same mentor, agree on first century facts, yet they respectfully disagree with each other. My favorite legal book contained a conversation between Justice Scalia, Larry Tribe (Harvard prof and progressive god) and a legal philosopher at NYU Law. It shows there are no hard and fast facts.
Bart Ehrman is good but not the best scholar. He is very reasonable.
Crossan writes very riveting accounts of this material.
None of these authors bothers refuting the WT. A Higher criticism approach is so powerful.
Oh, I forgot to mention my most recommended book for claifying WT policy. The Bible, read in consecutive verses. I had to do it for Pagels class. Reading the Bible in the library, I would frequently call home and announce my conclusions to the family. Pagels assigned some background material. When class was completed, I just read without any commentary. I focused on the precise text and asked myself what I thought. After I read the text and thought about what I could surmise, I would telephone prominent seminaries, usually Union, and ask for the leading commentary. Union was nondenominational.
Words are totally inadequate to describe how freeing the process was. Some things were over my head. Only a few. I was not a grad student. I dreamed of doing grad work at Union but the school had a Koine Greek requirement. I took light Koine Greek courses at several churches with large outreach programs. The Episcopal seminary had no Greek requirement but the absence of Greek made the school less attractive. Also, I could not see myself as a priest.