I am convinced that the English Standard Version is the best English translation currently on the market for general Bible reading and study. Its translation style is somewhere between the KJV and the TNIV, but probably leans closer to the KJV.
It is a formal equivalent translation, which means that the translators generally try to translate word for word, unless such a translation would be overly confusing or misleading. Unless you know Greek and Hebrew, it is better than the NASB for readability. The only reason I can think of for preferring the NASB is if you like seeing the syntax of the original language while reading English (I don’t!).
There are problems with the ESV. It is not as readable in areas as it could be, but until a through theology of Bible translation is developed, this is the best we’ve got. I could do without all the capitulation towards gender-neutral language as well. But as long as you keep in mind that when the text says “people,” the Greek and Hebrew is probably “man,” you will be fine.
Here is an idea for Crossway to consider. In our electronic age, where text manipulation is so easy, why not offer two versions of the ESV. They could have the ESV more formal, and the ESV more dynamic. The current version would not have to be touched, it could be sold as is as “more dynamic.” After some reworking (i.e. turning anthropos back into man, etc.) the formal equivalent could be offered for those interested. In fact, maybe they could even produce a parallel version: ESVd and ESVf.
There is one more product that I would also love to see. A Greek/ESV Bible with a color coded Greek text. I’ve gone through the Greek text of BibleWorks and color coded most of the text. For nouns, Nominatives are blue, Genitives are green, Datives are gold, and Accusatives are pink. Verbs are all red, but those that are imperative are bold and underlined. Subjunctives are just underlined and Infinitives are just bold. Participles are bold and underlined with their case matching the color scheme for nouns. I’ve done something similar for the Hebrew. Now this would sell!