Great question. Like you, I went to church all my life but wasn't baptized until I was 23 (I'm 37 now). I never felt like I was "ready" because Satan would always remind me of some recent sin I had committed and then I would feel like I wasn't worthy to be baptized or that I was a hypocrite. So I kept trying and trying to "do better" before I was baptized.
The problem with my thinking is that I thought that God would not be pleased with me until I was living a good life. This a "salvation by works" belief, which is contrary to what the Bible teaches. Salvation is a free gift from God and it is given, not on the basis of what I do or don't do, but on the basis of what Jesus has done on the Cross. If you accept this gift and trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then God looks at you through the "covering" of His blood. In other words, at the moment you place your trust in Jesus, you are deemed holy in God's sight - it is not because you did something good but because Jesus paid the penalty for your sins. Your salvation is complete and there is nothing else you need to do to be saved. Since your salvation is not earned, there is also nothing you can do to lose (or un-earn) it.
Salvation, however, is not the end of the story. Good works do not save you but are not irrelevant either. Salvation produces in you a new life and a new heart - one that desires to please God. The process of santification is what occurs AFTER salvation - it is the process whereby God changes our hearts to be more like His. This is a lifelong process (unlike salvation, which is a one-time event) and it is filled with successes and failures (on our part, not God's).
I often have to remind my 12-year old son that being a follower of Christ is not about "feelings" and is not much different than a marriage relationship. In a marriage, there will be times when you don't "feel" like being married or "feel" like loving your spouse, but you make a choice to love them anyway. Other times, you may "feel" like being married is the greatest thing ever. The same is true with our relationship with Christ. There will be times when you "feel" like God is sitting right next to you, guiding you every step of the way. There will also be times when you "feel" like God is not listening at all. I can't stress this enough - this is a normal part of the sanctification process. It DOES NOT mean that you were not saved or that God is displeased with you or that you were never a Christian to begin with, . . . Rather, in those times, you continue to make a choice to loved God and you will find that He is 100% faithful to you and loves you more than you can possibly imagine.
There are a TON of resources out there that can help you, but you are right to be skeptical of some, as many appear to be based in truth but are far from it (like The Da Vinci Code). I'm not going to suggest any on here because I'm not sure what specifically is holding you back. In other words, if you have specific objections to Christianity, then you would want to look at some books on apologetics. If you want to know more about living the Christian life (i.e., sanctification), then there is a whole different list of books you can look at. If you want to contact me, I'd be glad to go over some with you.
One thing to keep in mind is not to become too dependent on what others say, either in books or chat forums or elsewhere. Hands down, the BEST sources are the Bible itself and prayer. Books and other resources are merely tools which can assist in your understanding of the Bible, but should never take precedence over the Bible itself.
I hope this helps.