I would like to list in an essay three books that I read. I do not know how to do so in text.
Generally, you should italicize (or underline in some cases) the book titles. This is true for nearly all scholarly journals and legal writing that I've seen. Most scholarly books I've read use italics as well.
"...alongside we studied the theory behind them from diverse books, such as: Optical Coherence and Quantum Optics (Mandel & Wolf 1995); Quantum Optics (Scully & Zubairy 1997); and Laser Cooling and Trapping (Metcalf & Van der Straten 1999)."
However, it seems that the New York Times and other newspapers don't use italics because of something to do with AP computers and their inability to do italics. The New York Times quotes book titles.