Best Books for UPSC Exam Preparation

What are the books needed to clear IAS/UPSC Exam? What did UPSC toppers study for UPSC - Civil Services Exam preparation? Get the List of Top Books fo....

Standyou Team
Standyou Team

Apr 30, 2019 04:01:56



Preparing for civil services can be easy or tough depending on your study material. There are hundreds of books that can make or break your deal. Choosing the right one is essential. Besides choosing the books, it is important that you familiarize with exam patterns and syllabus. Once you’ve read and understood the areas covered under different sections of preliminary and mains papers, you can select the book that suits your need. Coaching Institute also plays a vital role in UPSC Exam Preparation here are some of the Best UPSC Coaching in India. 

There are a variety of books that cater to your syllabus criteria. You can either choose books paper wise or opt for an all-in-one magnum opus. This decision is purely choice based, and you can analyze the benefits and drawbacks by comparing the index of the books. We’ve compiled a list of best books for IAS-UPSC, that we think are the top sellers in the market today. Check Out Best UPSC Coaching in Delhi which can help you in your "UPSC Preparation"

General Studies (basics)

NCERT books from standard 6th to 12th are the best kick starters for an all-around information window. Starting with these helps you grasp the basic idea of the UPSC exam syllabus. Many counselors advise an in-depth review of NCERT books to strengthen your base, followed by individual boos on specific topics. You can buy the books on (insert link).

Preliminary Examination

There are two papers commonly known as General Studies Paper I and II in the preliminary set of examination. All the questions in this round will be multiple choice questions. We recommend going for an all-inclusive book that gives you sample questions to practice as well. Books from Arihant, McGraw Hill Education, and Pearson, offer an excellent selection of relevant material and practice questions. A synchronized compilation helps you cover a wide range of subjects and gives you an idea about the general pattern followed in the paper. There are different manuals for both papers, and you can prepare using separate books for a thorough understanding.

For CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test) or General Studies Paper II there are specific books compiled for students who are looking to improve aptitude skills;

  1. Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning by R.S. Aggarwal
  2. Logical Reasoning, Analytical Ability and General Mental Ability by Sanjeev Joon and R.A. Sharma
  3. Cracking the CSAT by Arihant

Mains Examination

Once you clear the preliminary hurdle for your dream job, a lengthy battle with the mains examination awaits. Knowing your enemy is important and gives you leverage above them. There are nine papers in this set of examination. We have compiled the best books for IAS-UPSC based on different subjects. You can choose the best suitable option for you from every category and combine them with mock questions for better results.

Indian History and culture

  1. Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
  2. The wonder that was India by A.L. Bhasham
  3. Ancient and Medieval India by Poonam Dalal
  4. India’s struggle for independence by Bipin Chandra
  5. India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha
  6. From Plassey to Partition: A history of Modern India
  7. History of Modern India by Bipin Chandra

Geography (India and World)

  1. Geography of India by Majid Hussain
  2. World Geography by Majid Hussain
  3. NCERT Geography books
  4. India: A Comprehensive Geography by D.R. Khuller
  5. Oxford School Atlas
  6. Human Geography by Majid Hussain
  7. Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Go Cheng Leong

Science and Technology;

  1. Science and Technology for Civil Services and Preliminary Examination by Ravi P. Agrahari
  2. General Science for Civil Services Preliminary Examination by S.A. Majid
  3. Science and Technology in India by Kalpana Rajaram
  4. Science and technology by Sheelwant Singh

Indian Economy;

  1. Indian Economy Key Concepts by Sankarganesh Karuppiah
  2. The Indian Economy by Sanjiv Verma
  3. Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
  4. Indian Economy for General Studies by Arunesh Singh

Environment (ecology and climate change)

  1. Environment for Civil Services Prelims and Mains by D.R. Khuller and J.A.C.S. Rao
  2. Environment and Ecology by R. Rajagopalan
  3. Environment and Ecology by Majid Hussain
  4. Environment by Shankar IAS Academy

Indian Polity and Constitution

  1. Indian Polity and Constitution by Jojo Mathew
  2. Indian Polity by M Lakshmikant
  3. Our Constitution by Subhash C Kashyap
  4. India and the World: Through the Eyes of Indian Diplomats
  5. Introduction to the Indian Constitution by D.D. Basu 

World History

  1. Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe
  2. World History by Krishna Reddy
  3. World History by Vivek S. Raj

Governance and Foreign Relations of India

  1. Governance in India by M. Karthikeyan
  2. International Relations by Pavneet Singh
  3. India’s Foreign Policy since Independence by V.P. Dutt
  4. Governance in India by Lakshmikant

Internal Security and Indian Society

  1. India’s National Security by Bajpai
  2. Challenges to Internal Security of India by Ashok Kumar
  3. Indian Society for Civil Services by M. Senthil Kumar
  4. Indian Society: Issues, Policies and Welfare Schemes by Pandey V

Essay and Current Affairs

  1. A Compendium of Essays by J.K. Chopra
  2. Essays for Civil Services by Pulkit Khare
  3. Manorama Yearbook
  4. Current Affairs for IAS by S.A. Majid
  5. India Yearbook
  6. Current Affairs and News in Focus by Kiran Prakashan

Ethics and Integrity

  1. Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude by G. Subha Rao
  2. Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude by Arihant
  3. The Lexicon by Niraj Kumar

Previous Year Question Papers

  1. IAS Mains Chapter-wise Solved Papers by Arihant
  2. IAS Mains Solved Papers by Heed
  3. General Studies Paper I and II by Kiran Prakashan


Analysis of Best UPSC Books by Experts

UPSC is deemed as the most prestigious and naturally the hardest exam to crack in our country. The Union Public Services Exam is responsible for the recruitment of class A and class B of Central services. There are two parts of the examination, Prelims and then the Mains. While the Prelims are conducted in the month of August, Mains take place in December each year.

Given that the exam holds much importance, it is bound to be difficult. It has a success rate of only 0.1%. In the year 2017, more than 5 lakh students appeared for the exam. Here it gets essential for the aspirants to be well aware of the exams, the pattern, syllabi and how to prepare for it.

Here is a list of important books that have helped many aspirants in realizing their goals. Treat them like your Holy Bible to clear IAS:

Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth (Polity)

M. Laxmikanth is a renowned name and needs no introduction. His book Indian Polity is consistently the most preferred books by UPSC aspirants. It offers comprehensive and detailed knowledge about the polity. If you are a beginner and it is your first attempt, you must definitely refer to this book. It will give you the know-how of the subject and help you prepare with ease.


Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania (Culture)

Indian Culture is an integral topic of the UPSC prelims. The right way to prepare for it is through the book by Nitin Singhania. Titled Indian Art and Culture, it contains a vast knowledge of plenty of topics. The topics that are majorly covered in it are Indian paintings, art, architecture, and music. They are depicted with the help of several diagrams and pictures as well. Not only that, the book contains several questions for easy preparation.


Oxford School Atlas by Oxford Publishers (Geography)

The Oxford School Atlas can provide in-depth knowledge about the geography of India. It is so because it contains about 200 simplifies maps of India. Apart from that, there are 94 thematic maps, supported by diagrams and charts. The detailed physical and political maps provide extensive knowledge. It covers topics like agriculture, wildlife, climate, demography, natural hazards, and many more.


Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong (Geography)

With an easy and understandable language, this book has become the best way to masters the geography of India. The Certificate Physical and Human Geography include basic details of all the major topics. Owing to these reasons, it has become the go-to book for all the UPSC aspirants. The book has a lot of aids like pictures, maps, and illustrations for better understanding.


Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh (Economics)

For all the UPSC aspirants, this book Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh has proven to be very beneficial. It is a detailed text that provides knowledge of the Indian economy. The book contains detailed knowledge that spans over all the topic of the Prelims as well as the Mains exam. Owing to the many benefits, the Indian Economy book written by Ramesh Singh is the bestseller of the section. All the candidates rely on it to brush up their knowledge about the Indian economy.


Economic Survey by the Ministry of Finance (Economy)

If you are looking for authentic and updated information about the Indian economy, then this is the right pick. The Economic Survey by the Ministry of Finance is the most reliable source of information about the economy. It identifies the performance of the government and also the challenges faced by them. The readers get in-depth knowledge about the topics.


India Year Book (Current Affairs)

The India Year Book is released by the Publication Division of the Indian Government. It entails a detailed compilation of the information about the current affairs of India. Topics like state policy, trade, economy, important dignitaries, demographics, and public schemes are also discussed in it. You can rest assured about the reliability of the information since the Government of India publishes it. Many other organizations, researchers and media houses also rely on it. To prepare the current affairs of India, you can refer to this book.


A Brief History of Modern India by Rajiv Ahir (Modern India)

Modern India is also a topic of the UPSC syllabi. The Brief History of Modern India written by Rajiv Ahir has details about major events. It deals with the fall of the Mughal Empire and the consequent rise of the East India Company. All the major events of history are timelined in a proper structure, making it easy to understand.


MHE General Studies Paper II Manual (CSAT)

General Studies Paper II requires rigorous preparation. And to ace, the preparation, McGraw-Hill Education’s General Studies Paper II is the right book. The book is according to the pattern and syllabus of the examination. Being relevant to the context, it has only the relevant material in it. The book contains basic theory as well as practice material for the right preparation. The content of the book has seven major sections, whereas the eight sections have practice sections.



All the UPSC aspirants must have basic knowledge about various subjects. And to update it, the candidates are recommended to go through the NCERT books. One must collect all the books of humanities subjects from class 6th to 12th. Doing so will keep them updated with all the basic concepts. The list of NCERT books and topics can be found on the website of the Central Board of Secondary Education. It is a practice followed by almost all of the UPSC candidates.

Preparation for UPSC is not an easy task. It can become a daunting experience for the first-timers. But, with the help of the right books and guidance, one can ace the preparation of this competitive exam. The above-mentioned list of books can help you cover the basics of each topic and give you an edge over others.


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