Painting of a young girl with wax tablets and a pen from Pompeii (Wikimedia Commons, Public domain)
The companion and handbook genre is a publication type that has flourished in the last decade. Leading scholars provide a thorough description of the subjects involved in a field while also giving the most current interpretations of key questions. Each essay in a companion reflects an important subject facet and identifies the books and articles which are crucial for a greater understanding. Companions for Classics include:
Blackwell Companions - 65 Titles
Brill Companions - 35 Titles
Cambridge Companions - 44 Titles
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. It is one of the best places to find discussion of issues that are unresolved or in contention.