If you have never read the Bible, I would suggest you start with a Living Bible or a New Living Bible. These are paraphrases, but they might be a lot easier for you to wade through than actual translations.
Then, once you’re familiar with what’s in there, I would suggest an NIV, which is translated from the oldest extant sources, and is a pretty good one. If you want access to the so-called “apocryphal” books not found in Protestant Bibles, go get a copy of the New American Bible (put out by Catholic Book Publishing Co.), preferably the St. Joseph edition for the study notes. I would only suggest reading this, again, after you’ve got a good grounding of what’s actually in the Bible. (I.e., read the Living first.)
One of the best companion volumes you can get is called The Bible Almanac, by J.I. Packer, Merrill C. Tenney, and William White, Jr., provided it’s still in print. Try looking for it, put out by Thomas Nelson Publishers. This has a lot of historical and sociological background that can be very helpful, and it’s well-illustrated.
I would recommend avoiding commentaries for the time being; there are 900 million of them on the market, and not one of them agrees with any of the others. The only way you’ll get a commentary that’s any good is to read all the original sources yourself and write your own.
And finally, since nobody else has suggested it, may I offer a few pointers that may be helpful? If you’re going to start with the Old Testament, read Genesis, and you can go on with Exodus, but only read up to Chapter 25. (Chapters 1-24 deal with Moses and Pharaoh and getting the Jews out of Egypt—everything you saw in “The 10 Commandments”.) Skip the rest, along with all of Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The reason why is that the second half of Exodus and the following three books all deal (in incredibly dense detail), with the laws for sacrifices in the Jewish temple ceremonies. Right down to how many cubits the altar shall be, types of material it can be made of, times and seasons for certain offerings (animal offerings, cereal offerings, “wave” offerings, etc.) and so on. There’s nothing wrong with all of this stuff, it’s just that it gets INCREDIBLY boring after about three chapters, and it has discouraged many a would-be Bible reader. Remember that this is not a book you can sit down and read from page one straight through the way you would a Stephen King novel.
Read your way through Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings (good stuff there about Samson and Delilah, Saul, King David, Solomon, etc.), and 1 & 2 Chronicles. I would omit Chapters 1 to 9 and 22 to 28 in 1 Chronicles, mostly since they deal with geneologies and population lists of the Jewish nation, tribe by tribe, clan by clan-----again, okay stuff, but damned boring for a novice…or anybody else, for that matter. Skip Job. Read it much later when you’re better grounded and you have a handle on the deeper theology in some of this stuff. Job is pretty dense and tough to read.
Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon: read them; there’s some good stuff in there, if you like poetry and advice. Song of Solomon is sort of racy, in a way, since it deals with Solomon and the hots he has for his girlfriend.
As for the rest of the Old Testament from this point, I would skip it the first time through; I really would. There is a lot in there, but you have to sort through all of these prophecies, and it can get to be pretty tough slogging. I would advise coming back to it later, and maybe reading it in small chunks. Daniel can be pretty good, what with the lion’s den, and the hand writing on the wall, and King Nebuchanezzar turning into a werewolf, and all that, but be advised that there’s a lot of mystical stuff in the back that’s pretty confusing (the beasts with symbolic horns, and “2,300 evenings and mornings” and “a times, times, and a half-time”, and all that jazz). Jonah is a good read, what with being swallowed by the whale, and all that. Ezra and Nehemiah are easy to read, but chronologically they take place after everything else in the Old Testamant, and you might want to wait to read them so you have the history straight in your head.
The New Testament: absolutely read the four Gospels, and the book of Acts. Read those first. Some people suggest reading John first, others Mark; I say start at Matthew and read straight through. After this, you can read the Epistles, but take 'em slow, and don’t get discouraged if they seem a little dense, especially books like Hebrews which are full of heavy theology. Revelation: read it if you want, but remember it’s another one of these apocalyptic books like Daniel, and it’s full of some pretty wild symbolism. Don’t expect to understand it; nobody does.
You might want to stick with the books I’ve mentioned for several readings. Don’t be in a hurry. Re-read them as much as you want, until you have a good grip on them. After you do, then you can go back and slog through all those Old Testament prophets, and glean some pretty good stuff, but you won’t be able to retain a thing if you’ve never read any of this before and you try to start cold.
After you get all this down, contact me in about 5 to 10 years, and we’ll discuss reading pseudepigraphal books, Gnostic books, extra-canonical works like the Didache, and the writings of the early Church fathers. Have fun!