Books for IAS Exam

During IAS Preparation, it is very important to read important books for the respective subjects of UPSC IAS Exam syllabus. Here, we have suggested important books relevant for the IAS Preparation so that IAS aspirants do not waste their precious time on reading scraps.

General Studies

History and Culture

  1. NCERT books
  2. India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra
  3. India’s Struggle for Independence: 1857-1947
  4. India Since Independence
  5. A Brief History of Modern India 
  6. Facets of Indian Culture – Spectrum
  7. An Introduction to Indian Art Part 1: Textbook in Fine Arts for Class XI
  8. History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
  9. Ancient India by R.S Sharma
  10. Indian Art and Culture – Nitin Singhania
  11. Mastering Modern World History
  12. India After Gandhi
  13. Contemporary World History


  1. NCERT Books
  2. India Yearbook: Chapter 1
  3. Geography of India
  4. Indian and World Geography
  5. Human Geography
  6. World Geography
  7. Certificate Physical And Human Geography


  1. NCERTs Books
  2. Budget & Economic Survey
  3. The Indian Economy by Sanjiv Verma
  4. Indian Economy by Uma Kapila
  5. Indian Economy by Mishra and Puri
  6. Indian Economy by the Datt and Sundaram
  7. Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
  8. India Yearbook Chapters 7,13,14,19,21
  9. Business Standard newspaper

Indian Polity

  1. NCERTs Books
  2. Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth
  3. The Constitution of India – P M Bakshi
  4. Introduction to the Constitution of India – DD Basu
  5. The Hindu newspaper
  6. Yojana magazine

International Relations

  1. NCERT XII (Contemporary World Politic)
  2. World Atlas (TTK/Blackswan)
  3. Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy
  4. Pax Indica
  5. The Hindu newspaper
  6. Kurukshetra

Environment – Biodiversity & Agriculture

  1. NCERT Books (topic-wise)
  2. Environment by Shankar IAS Academy
  3. Environment And Ecology – A Complete Guide – by R. Rajagopalan (Lexis Nexis)
  4. Environment & Ecology for Civil Services Examination
  5. India Yearbook 2017: Chapter 12

Science & Technology

  1. NCERT Books (classes VII – X: All; and classes XI, XII: Selected topics)
  2. Science and Technology: for Civil Services
  3. The Hindu newspaper

Ethics & Integrity

  1. Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Main Examination by Subba Rao and P.N. Roy Chaudary
  2. Lexicon for Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude for IAS General Studies

Current Affairs

  1. The Hindu Newspaper
  2. Indian Express Newspaper
  3. Yojana magazine
  4. Wise IAS Current Affairs

General Studies Paper II (CSAT)

Maths, Data Interpretation

  1. NCERT Books (classes VII – IX): If you are weak in Mathematics
  2. Tata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual

Comprehension, Inferences

  1. Analytical Reasoning – M K Pandey
  2. Newspapers

English Language, Verbal Ability

  1. English Reading Comprehension
  2. Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R S Aggarwal

Decision Making, Communication Skill

Reasoning, Arrangement, Blood Relations

  1. Analytical Reasoning – M K Pandey
  2. Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R S Aggarwal

Out of a plethora of study material available both online and offline, it is crucial that the candidates select the best books for UPSC IAS preparation. IAS toppers recommend that aspirant start their UPSC preparation with NCERT books and then move on to the standard reference books.

The best IAS books can vary from candidate to candidate depending on their previous expertise and knowledge of the subject matter. However, the books for UPSC recommended by experts are listed in this article subject-wise. Choosing the right IAS exam books online for different stages of the UPSC exam is quite important.

Study Material for UPSC

Apart from the books mentioned above, the essential UPSC Study Material includes:

  1. 2nd ARC Report
  2. Economic Survey (latest)
  3. Budget (latest)
  4. Finance Commission Report (latest)
  5. Annual reports by central ministries
  6. Current Affairs
    • The Hindu
    • Yojana Magazine
    • Press Information Bureau
  7. Niti Aayog Action Agenda

Books for Optional Subjects:

Optional Subjects for Social Science

  1. Law
  2. Sociology
  3. Economics
  4. Geography
  5. Philosophy
  6. Psychology
  7. Public administration
  8. Indian history
  9. Political science
  10. sociology

Optional Subjects for UPSC CSE for Science

  1. Agriculture
  2. Geology
  3. Physics
  4. Mathematics
  5. Botany
  6. Chemistry
  7. Animal husbandry
  8. Statistics
  9. Anthropology
  10. Medical science
  11. Zoology

Optional Subjects list for Engineering

  1. Mechanical engineering
  2. Civil engineering
  3. Electrical engineering

Optional Subjects list for Commerce and Management

  1. Management
  2. Commerce

Optional Subjects for Literature

  1. Urdu
  2. Sanskrit
  3. Bengali
  4. Assamese
  5. Dogri

Read only the Best UPSC Books

  • The UPSC syllabus is vast and it takes at least one year to comprehensively cover it. Therefore, you cannot waste precious time by reading books that are below standard or worse, contain incorrect and unauthenticated information. In this case, you would have to unlearn what you had previously read and this can prove difficult.
  • Learning from the recommended sources would mean you can directly make notes out of it if necessary.
  • There are many books that give information tailor-made for the IAS exam. For instance, Laxmikanth for Polity is a book that you must read if you are taking the UPSC exam. Many questions have been asked that seem to come directly from this book.
  • In addition, many books including the one discussed above, contain information in a ‘notes’ format. So, they are readymade for IAS preparation. You don’t have to waste time trying to make notes.
  • There are many books that are excellently written and contain a whole lot of valuable information. But you have to decide whether they are valuable for the UPSC exam or not. They might make a good read for academics and research scholars. But not necessarily for the UPSC exam. So, you need UPSC books that will help in your preparation and fetch you marks in the IAS exam.

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