Best IAS Books For Civil Services Prelims And Mains Exam Preparation

Best IAS Books For Civil Services Prelims And Mains Exam Preparation

What Is The Syllabus For UPSC?

UPSC CSE is one of the toughest and the most challenging exam of the country. UPSC exam has a vast syllabus which is a bit difficult to cover if not studied strategically. Every year lakhs of students appear for the UPSC CSE exam but only few of them are able to clear the exam because the candidates who clear the exam firstly understand the syllabus in detail and then start preparing according to it. So before starting the preparation for the UPSC one must go through the detailed structure of syllabus and thoroughly understand the exam pattern of UPSC.

One must keeping in mind some important points before buying the books, these tips are discussed below-

  1. Once you understand the syllabus properly one must start arranging the study material, books, magazines etc. It is very necessary that you get the best books for yourself that cover almost all the syllabus, so you do not need to refer to lots and lots of book. 
  2. Also choosing a good book is important so that you can save your time and need not to read another books as this will just engage you and you would not be able to complete the syllabus on time. 
  3. You must also analyze the writing style of the author, so that it becomes easy for you to understand. Reading from a book that has a very complicated language will require more and more time to complete it. Go for the books which cover all the important topics in depth. The books should contain practice questions, summary and previous year questions also. Out of hundreds of books of each subject that are available online as well as offline you need to choose the one which is best for you. One must choose the books that are easily available.

Although all the toppers have their own recommendation on different writers and their books, the article below consists of some of the best recommended books for UPSC Prelims and Mains. This article will help you in making a wise choice for yourself. 

NCERT books are referred to as the basis of the UPSC preparation. Some books for prelims and mains exam are listed below-

Best Books for UPSC Prelims Subject Wise-

Prelims is the first stage of the UPSC CSE exam. Only after clearing this you can appear for the Mains Exam. Prelims consist of two compulsory papers- General Studies Paper-I and General Studies Paper-II (CSAT).

Best Books for UPSC Prelims

1. History

o India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra

o Indian Art & Culture by Nitin Singhania

o History of Medieval India (Old NCERT) – Satish Chandra

o ‘Concise History of Modern India’ – Sujata Menon

o NCERT 11th Ancient and Medieval

o NCERT 12th Modern Indian History

2. Geography

o World Atlas – Orient Black Swan

o Certificate Physical Geography – G C Leong

o Fundamentals of Human Geography – NCERT

o India: Physical Environment – NCERT

o NCERT VI-X Old Syllabus

o NCERT XI, XII New Syllabus

3. Polity


o Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth

o The Constitution of India – PM Bakshi

o India’s Foreign Policy – Rajiv Sikri

o Introduction to the Constitution of India – DD Basu

o Economic Development & Policies in India – Jain & Ohri

4. Economics

o Indian Economy by Nitin Singhania

o The Indian Economy – Sanjiv Verma

o Economic Development & Policies in India – Jain & Ohri


5. International Relations

o Current Affairs

o NCERT XII (Contemporary World Politics)

6. Current Affairs

o The Hindu

o Indian Express

o Yojana Magazine

o Economic and Political Weekly

o Kurukshetra Magazine

7. CSAT Books

o Tata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual

o Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning by R S Aggarwa

Solved Question Papers

o IAS General Studies Prelims Solved Papers by Vishal Publications

Best Books for UPSC Mains Exam-

After clearing the Prelims the candidate is eligible to appear for the main exam which is the second phase of the UPSC exam. The Mains examination constitutes of total 9 papers. Two papers of language out of 9 are the qualifying papers of 300 marks each. These two qualifying papers are English Language Papers and Any Indian Language. The papers on General Studies, Essay and Optional Subjects of only those candidates are evaluated who get 25% marks in both language exam papers. If a candidate fails to do so the marks are not counted.

List Of UPSC Books For Mains GS Papers
SubjectMains PaperUPSC Books
History, Indian Heritage & CultureGS Paper 11. Ancient India by RS Sharma
2. Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
3. History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
4. India after Independence by Bipan Chandra
5. India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
Geography 1. World Atlas (Orient Black Swan)
2. World Geography by Majid Husain
3. Geography of India by Majid Husain
4. Certificate Physical and Human Geography by G C Leong
5. Fundamentals of Physical Geography NCERT Class 11
Polity & International RelationsGS Paper 21. Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth
2. International Relations: Pushpesh Pant
3. Introduction to the Constitution of India by DD Basu
EconomyGS Paper 31. Indian Economy – Nitin Singhania
2. Environment and Disaster Management by Tata McGraw Hill
3. Challenges to Internal Security of India by Ashok Kumar
EthicsGS Paper 41. Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Main Examination by SubbaRao and P.N. Roy Chowdhury

Books for UPSC Mains Optional Paper-

Optional SubjectsBook Name
Agriculture Books1. Fundamentals Of Agricultural Extension Education by U Barman
2. A Text Book of Agricultural Statistics R. Rangaswamy
3. Agronomy – Yellamanda Reddy
4. Entomology – Vasantharaj & David
5. Genetics- B.D.Singh
Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Science1. A guide on forest Entomology – Regupathy
2. A Textbook Of Animal Husbandry- G C Banerjee
3. Advanced Animal Nutrition- D. V Reddy
4. Agricultural Economics- S Subba Reddy
5. Animal husbandry & veterinary science- T.N. Palanivelu
Anthropology Books1. Physical Anthropology – P Nath
2. Fossil Evidence – S Das
3. Social Anthropology – DN Majumdar & T N Madan
4. Indian Anthropology – Nadeem Hasnain
5. Anthropology Theories – Makhan Jha
Botany1. Cell Biology- De Robertis & Ambrose and Easy or Powar
2. Cryptograms- B.R. Vasista
3. Botany for Degree Students; Pteridophyta(Vascular Cryptogams)-P.C. Vashishta
4. Ecology, Microbiology, Animal Behaviour, Pollution and Toxicology For B. Sc. Part III, Paper III- Dr Veer Bala Rastogi
5. Economic botany in the tropics- S. L. Kochhar
Chemistry1. A guide to mechanism in organic chemistry – Peter Sykes
2. A textbook of environmental chemistry and pollution – S.S. Dara.
3. A textbook of organic chemistry – Bahl & Ba
4. A textbook of physical chemistry (Vol. – IV) – K.L. Kapoor
5. Advanced physical chemistry – Gurdeep Raj
Civil Engineering1. Engineering Mechanics: Statics and Dynamics – Irving Herman Shames
2. Strength of Material- Prof. S. Ramamrutham
3. Mechanics for Engineers- B Johnson
4. Structural Analysis- C. K. Wang
5. Limit state design of steel structures: S K Duggal
Commerce & Accountancy1. Accounting Corporate Accounting – Naseem Ahmed
2. Accounting Standards- D. S. Rawat
3. Auditing Students’ Guide to Auditing- Aruna Jha
4. Income Tax book by- V.K. Singhania or Girish Ahuja
5. Cost Accounting; Theory & Problems- Maheshwari & Mittal
Economics Books1. Indian Economy – Ramesh Singh
2. The Indian Economy – Sanjiv Verma
3. Indian Economy – Mishra and Puri
4. Indian Economy – R. Dutt and KPM Sundaram
5. Banking – S.B. Gupta
6. Dictionary of Economics – Graham Bannock; T.E. Baxter, Ray Rees
Electrical Engineering1. Electromagnetic Fields & Waves- Kd Prasad
2. Energy Conversion: Ashfaq Hussain
3. Circuit Theory: Analysis and Synthesis- A. Chakrabarti
4. Signals and Systems-Alan V. Oppenheim, Alan V. Willsky, Hamid Nawab
5. Physics of Semiconductor Devices – Simon Sze
6. Analog Electronics: J.B. Gupta
7. Digital Logic and Computer Design-M. Morris Mano
8. Principles of Electronics – V .K. Mehta
Geography Books1. A Geography by Population – R.C. Chandna
2. Agricultural Geography – Majid Husain
3. Climatology – D.S.Lal
4. Economic and Social Geography – Made Simple – R.Knowles & J.Wareing
5. Economic Geography- Hartshorn & Truman A
Geology1. Advancing Frontiers in Geology and Geophysics: A Volume in Honour of M.S. Krishnan- A P Subramaniam & S. Balakrishnan
2. Ananda K. Coomaraswamy Writings on Geology and Mineralogy: Scientific Papers and Comments- Ranganathan, A. & Rao, K. Srinivasa (Eds.)
3. Concise Glossary of Geology- Mathur, S.M.
4. Deccan Traverses: The Making of Bangalore’s Terrain-Mathur, Anuradha & Cunha, Dilip Da
5. Delta Sedimentation: East Coast of India- Singh, I.B. & Swamy, A.S.R.
6. Dimensions of Himalayan Geology- Biyani A.K.
History Books1. A History of South India -K.A. Nilkantha Sastrio Ancient India – Upinder Singh
2. Anatomy of the Raj (PPH) – Suhash Chakravarty
3. Age of Capital -E.J. Hobsbawm
4. The story of Civilization, Vol. 2 (NCERT) -Arjun Dev
Law1. International Law- S. K Kapoor
2. Our Constitution – Subhash C. Kashyap
3. The Constitution of India (Bare Act) – PM Bakshi
4. An Introduction to Public International Law – S. K. Verma
5. Introduction to the Constitution of India – D.D Basu
6. Constitution of India- VN Shukla
Management1. Fundamentals of Management by DeCenzo, Agarwal, Bhattacharya and Robbins
2. Marketing Management by Philip Kotler
3. Cost and Management Accounting by MN Arora
4. Organization Behaviour by Stephen Robbins
5. Financial Management by Prasanna Chandra
Mathematics Books1. Dynamics, Statics and Hydrostatics – M. Ray
2. Differential Calculus – Shanti Narayan, PK Mittal
3. Analytic Geometry – Shanti Narayan, DK Jha, HC Sinha and Sharma
4. Differential equations:- Golden series – NP Bali
5. Vector Analysis – Shanti Narayan, PK Mittal
8. Linear Algebra – K.C. Prasad, K B Datta
Mechanical Engineering1. Thermodynamics – R Yadav
2. Theory of Mechanics – S S Rattan
3. Heat Conversion – Arora and Kundwar
4. Heat Transfer – Gupta Prakash
5. Heat and Mass Transfer – R. Yadav
6. Theory of Mechanism and Mechanics – Jagdish Lal
Medical Science1. Human Anatomy—B D Chaurasia
2. Embryology from I B Singh
3. Human Physiology– Ganong; Guyton and A.K. Jain book
4. Biochemistry– by U. Satyanarayana book.
5. Pathology– Robbins, and Cotran
Philosophy Books1. A History of Philosophy by Frank Thilly
2. Survey of Indian Philosophy by C D Sharma
3. Existentialism: A Reconstruction by David Cooper
4. An Introduction to Indian Philosophy- S Chatterjee
5. A History of Philosophy-Frank Thilly
6. An Introduction to Political Theory by O P Gauba
7. Introduction to Religious Philosophy By Y Masih
Physics1. Any fundamental book on electrical engineering like B.L Theraja (Vol 1) or Vincent Del Toro
2. Classical Mechanism -Gupta, Kumar & Sharma – Takewale & Puranik -H. Goldstein
3. Electricity & Magnetism: D.C. TAyal, B.S. Agarwal, Griffith
4. Introduction of Electrodynamics – David Griffiths
5. EM Theory -Chopra & Agarwal/Satya Prakash
Political Science & International Relations1. An Introduction To Political Theory- O.P Gauba
2. Fifty Major Political Thinkers- Ian Adams And R W Dyson
3. A History Of Political Thought: Plato To Marx- Subrata Mukherjee And Sushila Ramaswamy
4. An Oxford Companion To Politics In India niraja Gopal Jayal And Pratap Bhanu Mehta
5. Foundations Of Indian Political Thought- V.R Mehta
Psychology1. Psychology XI & XII Std NCERT
2. Introduction to Psychology Morgan & King
3. Systems & Theories of Psychology Krawiec & Chaplin
4. Psychology by Morgan and King
5. Psychology by Ciccarelli
Public Administration Books1. Administrative Thinkers by Prasad and Prasad
2. Public Administration: Administrative Theories and Concepts by Fadia
3. Public Administration and Public Affairs 12th Edition – Nicholas Henry
4. Mohit Bhattacharya- New horizons in Public administration
5. Mohit Bhattacharya- Pub Ad A new look
Sociology Books1. Sociology – Anthony Giddens
2. Sociological Theory – Ritzer Georgeo Sociology – Haralambos & Holborn
3. Oxford Dictionary Of Sociology
4. Sociological Thought – M Francis Abraham and John Henry Morgan
Statistics1. An Introduction to Probability Theory & Mathematical Statistics -V K Rohtagi
2. An Outline of Statistical Theory (2 Vol.) -A M Goon, M K Gupta and B. Dass Gupta
3. Fundamentals of Applied Statistics- S C Gupta and V K Kapoor
4. Fundamentals of Mathematical Statistics-A C Gupta and V K Kapoor
5. Fundamentals of Statistics (2 Vol.)- A M Goon, M K Gupta and B Dass Gupta
Zoology1. Modern Zoology by Ramesh Gupta
2. Organic Evolution (Evolutionary Biology) by Veer Bala Rastogi
3. Ganong’s Review of Medical Physiology
4. Guyton and Hall Textbook of Medical Physiology
5. Cell Biology by CB Powar

Supplementary Books for UPSC Preparations-

Some of the supplementary study materials for UPSC are listed below.

1. 2nd ARC Report

2. Budget (Latest)

3. Economic Survey (Latest)

4. Niti Aayog Action Agenda

5. Finance Commission Report (Latest)

6. Annual reports by central ministries

7. Current Affairs – The Hindu newspaper, Yojana Magazine, PIB releases, Testbook UPSC Current Affairs, and more.

8. Yearbooks and reference books like India Year Book, Economic Survey, and Manorama Yearbook.

9. Informative videos from You Tube.


Choosing a right book is very necessary for achieving the goal. To clear UPSC you must have a detailed knowledge of the topics because Mains Exam requires essay writing which is only possible if you have in depth knowledge of the topics. Before purchasing the book you can also take a review of it by reading it online. With the right books, study material and in depth preparation you will certainly achieve you goal. All the Best!

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