Subject encyclopedias, handbooks and companions provide overviews of ideas, people, and events They are a quick way to find out the basic facts and current points of debate. When using an article in an encyclopedia or handbook, always check the bibliography for further reading at the end of the article. It will provide a selective list of the books, articles, and, sometimes, primary sources.
Literature reviews are a particularly useful resource when doing research. They address the issues involved in a particular question and the debates among scholars. They map out the intellectual terrain succinctly and give you the major landmarks in terms of key authors and significant titles for greater understanding.