Books for IAS
This page lists all the recommended Books for IAS exam including IAS Prelims Books, GS Mains Books for IAS, Pub Ad Books, Sociology Books, History Books, Geography Books, Political Science Books and other IAS exam books.
Use the Table of Contents below to jump directly to books you're looking for.
IAS PRELIMS BOOK LIST
All the best books for Prelims are listed here. You can order them easily online at great discount which is not available at your local book store. Just click on the link to get these recommended books for IAS.
Solved Papers and IAS Syllabus
Before reading any other books get the past 5 years Solved Section-wise Papers and IAS Syllabus as these are your best friends and constant companions throughout your IAS exam journey. These two reference books will save a lot of valuable time and effort as you start preparing for the Prelims so be sure to get the solved section-wise questions papers and the IAS syllabus.
General Studies Manual (GS Manual)
When starting out with prelims preparation it is a must to have a GS manual with you. What is a GS manual? Well it is a all-in-one book for civil services prelims covering all the topics like History, Geography, Polity, Economy, Current Affairs, General Knowledge, Mental Ability, Facts, and more. It is very useful for finding all information at one place. Also many times the standard books do not contain information, especially the latest ones. For this the GS manual is very handy. There are many GS manual available in the market but I recommend Tata McGraw Hill’s (TMH) GS Manual for prelims. Read my comprehensive review of TMH GS and CSAT Manuals. I think the information provided in TMH GS manual is up-to date, relevant and of high quality. Also the maps in the Geography section are very good for understanding the concepts. Language used is simple to grasp and its General Knowledge section is quite good.
Manorama Year Book
A good Year Book is must for IAS Prelims preparation. If you analyze the past 4 years GS papers you will find that minimum 15 question each year have appeared from General Knowledge based Year Books. I and many successful civil services candidates refer to Manorama Year Book. The best sections in MYB are the World profile with information on all countries, recent happenings. The Gk section is exceptional with many facts, data, recent news, awards, etc Other thing to read in MYB is the 500 or so Questions section. I have noticed that even if you just look at those questions in passing you will be benefited greatly in the Prelims as 3-4 questions come from just this section in the IAS Prelims.
Polity Books for IAS
As seasoned civil services aspirants are aware there are three books widely referred for Indian Polity, An Introduction to the Constitution of India by DD Basu, Our Constitution by Subhash Kashyap, and India’s Constitution by MV Pylee. Of the three books I always recommend Our Constitution by Subhash Kashyap as the language used is very simple to grasp even by someone who is studying Indian polity for the first time, it covers all the concepts required to gain a mastery of the syllabus. After reading and understanding this book you will only be required to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in Indian polity.
The book will take care of all the conventional questions like How has the SC interpreted Article 21 (Right to Life and Liberty), Relative power of LS Speaker and RS Chairman, Anti-Defection Law and many more. While DD Basu’s book is also OK, the language used is quite difficult to understand and the book has not been revised so it does not contain the recent amendments.
Another book to refer for Bare Acts of the Indian Constitution is Indian Constitution by PM Bakshi . This pocket-sized book lists just the articles along with all the amendment to the constitution and is very useful for Prelims as UPSC has started asking questions directly from the bare articles.
In Polity, apart from the Constitution, you also need to have sound knowledge of working of our Parliament. For this purpose, Our Parliament by Subhash Kashyap is highly recommended. You can also read the review of this book. Subhash Kashyap was the Secretary General of Parliament and has sound knowledge of the subject. Our Parliament is also very useful for GS Mains as well as for Public Administration paper.
IAS Exam History Books
India’s Struggle for Independence
Indian History consisting of Ancient History, Medieval and Modern History is another important component of CSAT paper 1 and quite scoring too. Of these three sub topics the most number of questions are asked from the modern History part and the best book to tackle it is Bipin Chandra’s India’s Struggle for Independence. This book starts from the 1857 Revolt and continues right till the independence period. India’s Struggle is important not just from the prelims perspective but is a must read book to secure 40-80 marks in GS Mains paper as well. Another good reference book for Modern History is Brief History of Modern India by Spectrum. The book is quite useful for quick revision before the Prelims.
Also refer NCERT text books on Ancient, Medieval and Modern India. For Ancient and Medieval Indian History, only NCERT text-books are sufficient but for Modern Indian history, the books listed are a must-read along with NCERT Modern India History text book.
Note: Refer this post for alternatives to old syllabus history NCERTs
Geography Books for IAS
Oxford Student Atlas
Nowadays more map-related questions are being asked in the IAS Preliminary exams than conventional type questions. In fact such map based questions are highly scoring if you just scan and observe the Indian and World maps for at least 15 minutes every day. You can then easily score 6-10 marks in the CSAT exam as about 6-10 questions are asked every year in the civil services Prelims from the Geography Atlas. From my experience and that of other successful civil services candidates, I recommend the Oxford Student Atlas for GS Geography questions. The Indian and World maps are quite detailed and the Physical and political maps are very easy to understand. If you need help in studying the Oxford Atlas, just leave a comment and I will be glad to help.
Goh Cheng Leong
IAS Economy Books
Economy questions asked in the Prelims are a combination of facts and theory. For tackling the factual questions refer to the Economic Survey released by the Information Ministry before the Budget presentation every year. It contains a wealth of information on Indian economy including in-depth tables and figures in the second half of the book. Economic Survey is also a must read for GS Mains as some questions are directly asked from it. Earlier I used to recommend the bulky Dutt and Sundharam Indian Economy book for basics. But this book has gone out of print and also, it is now outdated with lot of redundant information.
TMH Indian Economy
Once upon a time Indian Economy by Datt and Sundharam was quite popular among aspirants. But the book is bulky and most sections are not relevant from Prelims perspective. In its place, I recommend TMH Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh. It covers pretty much the entire scope of Economy syllabus for Prelims. Starting from a brief history of Indian Economy and the uniqueness of the Indian economic system it covers all the relevant sub-sectors of Indian economy like Planning, Industrialization and Policy, Agriculture, Economic Reforms, Inflation, Banking and Capital Market, External Trade and so on. The syllabus coverage in Indian Economy is complete, language is reader-friendly and book is updated frequently. Combine it with Economic Survey to ace Economy questions in Prelims.
Science Books for IAS
The TMH GS Manual has a pretty good Science section and is adequate for to tackle science related questions. However if you want you can complement it with NCERT textbooks of class IX and X.
Book for Ecology and Environment
Environment and Ecology by Majid Hussain is the recommended book for this important topic. This book covers the entire scope of environment and ecology in minute details and is equally useful for GS Paper 3 of Mains exam. As you know Majid Hussain is a well known author for Geography books and in this book on Environment and Ecology, he does complete justice to the topic at hand.
Book for CSAT Paper 2
Earlier I used to recommend three different books for Prelims paper 2 (CSAT). Not any longer. Now I recommend the very well written and accurate TMH CSAT Manual for Paper 2. Please go through my review of TMH Manuals to get an idea of why the TMH CSAT Manual is the only book you need to refer for Paper 2. Save time and money by referring one comprehensive book.
GS MAINS BOOKS FOR IAS
This section lists all the important books for all 4 General Studies papers of IAS Mains exam.
Books for GS Paper 1
(Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society)
India's Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra
Facets of Indian Culture by Spectrum
A New Look at Modern Indian History by BL Grover
India Since Independence by Bipin Chandra
A History of Modern World by Ranjan Chakravarti
India’s Struggle for Independence and New Look at Modern Indian History cover the period from 19th century to India’s independence. Both books are required since the former presents the entire period in the proper perspective and narrative while BL Grover’s book lists the various acts and reforms during the British period in point-wise format which is easier to grasp and reproduce in the Mains paper. I recommend you get both the books.
Facets of Indian Culture is a short but precise book on Indian culture and heritage topics.Answers to 2, 3 and 5 mark questions on this topic can be easily located in this book.
India Since Independence covers the period from 1947 to present times and is authored by Bipin Chandra, renowned author on Modern Indian History.
A History of the Modern World deals with World History topics including French and Industrial revolutions, World Wars and accompanying political changes in the world.
Certificate Physical and Human Geography by Goh Cheng Leong
Indian and World Geography by Majid Hussain
NCERTs of class XI and XII
Goh Cheng Leong’s book is a must-read book for Physical Geography for Mains as well as Prelims. You can expect questions testing your knowledge of Geography basics from this book.
Indian and World Geography by Majid Hussain is another recommended book for economic geography and World geography topics.
Book on Development, Participation, Secularism, Women Issues
India: Development and Participation by Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze
This is the best book I can recommend for authoritative understanding of the above issues. Since questions relating to development and its costs will be more analytical than factual Amartya Sen’s book will help you develop the critical understanding to tackle this tricky topic.
Books for GS Paper 2
(Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International Relations)
Our Constitution by Subhash Kashyap
Our Parliament by Subhash Kashyap
Governance in India by M Laxmikanth
International Relations in 21st Century by Pushpesh Pant
Our Constitution is the recommended book on Indian Polity for Mains as well as Prelims. Its explanatory as well as analytical writing style is well suited for Mains.
Our Parliament is also authored by Subhash Kashyap and explains all the parliamentary processes, committees and procedures in detail.
Governance in India by Laxmikanth is a good book to get an overview of the administrative setup in India. It has detailed chapters on civil services as well apart from state and union governments, legislative bodies etc.
International Relations by Pushpesh Pant is a recommended book to understand India’s relations with the international community, its foreign policy, various regional organizations and changing dynamics in South Asia.
Books for GS Paper 3
(Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management)
Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
Indian Economy: Performance and Policies by Uma Kapila
Environment & Ecology: Biodiversity, Climate Change & Disaster Management by Majid Hussain
Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh is a must-read book for Mains as well as Prelims to understand the basic economic concepts. Before you delve into analytical concepts, you should know the fundamentals of Indian economy and related economic terms; this book does this job really well.
Uma Kapila’s book focusses on the current economic issues and is updated almost every year. Very good book for analysis of current economic issues and tackling related questions in the GS paper.
Economic Survey of India released by the Finance Ministry every year before the budget presentation is a must-read book for Mains as well as Prelims. Questions directly related to the economic survey have been asked in the Mains GS papers in the past and you just cannot ignore this vital book without losing precious marks.
Environment and Ecology by Majid Hussain is a one-stop book for all issues related to environment and ecology including disaster management in India; for both Mains as well as Prelims. Highly recommended book.
Books for GS Paper 4
(Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude)
Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Main Examination by Subba Rao
GS Paper 4 focusses on ethics and integrity in civil services and your aptitude for it. Questions in this topic are far from straight forward and will test your resolve to serve the country without fear or favour or consideration for personal profit. Subba Rao’s book not only helps in understanding of ethics and integrity concepts but contains several case studies to prepare you for questions based on this topic.
Apart from these recommended books for GS Mains for IAS, you should also read news articles and editorials from newspapers like Indian Express and The Hindu. Also you should stay updated with the latest development in the field of Science and technology, Ecological issues, International Relations, Polity, Economic developments through online and offline news sources.
BOOKS FOR IAS OPTIONALS
Above, I've listed and described books for IAS Prelims and GS Mains books in detail. You can also find recommended books for popular IAS optional subjects for Mains exam by following the links below:
- Public Administration Books for IAS Exam
- Sociology Books for IAS Mains
- History Books for UPSC Civil Services Exam
- Geography Books for Civil Services Exam
- Political Science Books for IAS