Recommended Books for IAS Exam
This page lists all the best IAS books required for UPSC preparation divided into three categories – reference books for Prelims, topic-wise books for Prelims and Mains, and topic-wise books for UPSC Mains preparation. These IAS books are also recommended by IAS toppers and aspirants who have appeared for IAS interview.
Recommended Reference Books for IAS (UPSC)
The 6 important reference books for IAS Prelims preparation conducted by UPSC are listed below. You can buy these books online by clicking the Buy Now link.
1. IAS Solved Papers
Section-wise solved papers help you to analyse number and type of questions from different topics each year. You can understand the current trend of UPSC questions from this book. Solved papers will help you a great deal in your Prelims preparation efforts.
2. GS Manual for Paper 1
Mc-Graw Hill’s General Studies Manual is a highly recommended reference manual for all topics of Paper 1. You can find all information at one place and the information is very reliable. GS Manual is especially useful when you are preparing for UPSC Prelims in 6-8 months time and need one good reference book for all topics.
3. CSAT Manual for Paper 2
Mc-Graw Hill’s CSAT Manual covers all the topics of Paper 2 in complete detail with many test questions and examples. No need to refer any other book for Paper 2.
4. Manorama Year Book (MYB)
A good Year Book is must for IAS Prelims preparation. MYB is a recommended source for general knowledge information. Its international events section is also very useful.
5. India Year Book (IYB)
IYB is the official govt. publication and very important source of all the schemes and facts and figures related to census and other topics like defence, economy, agriculture, education etc.
6. Oxford Student Atlas
A reliable atlas is a must for Prelims and Mains to tackle map-based questions. Oxford Atlas has high quality and accurate maps of India and the World. How to prepare the Atlas? Practice for 30 minutes daily.
Recommended Topic-wise Books for IAS Preparation
Apart from reference books, you also need to read the following topic-wise UPSC Books for your Prelims and Mains Preparation.
1. Indian Polity by Laxmikanth
Mc Graw Hill’s Indian Polity book covers the entire Constitution – Articles, Schedules and Amendments- in detail. The language is easy to grasp for lay readers. The latest developments in polity are also covered.
2. Environment by Shankar
Environment and Ecology is a very important topic for Prelims and Mains and many questions are asked from it. Shankar’s Environment is a good reference book for preparing Environment related topics, including, climate change, global warming, various international agreements etc. More useful for Prelims than Mains.
3. Environment & Ecology by Rajagopalan
What Shankar’s Environment leaves out is covered by this excellent book called Environment & Ecology: A Complete Guide by R Rajagopalan. It tackles many current issues related to environment, climate change, pollution, water scarcity etc. in detail in very simple to understand language. You should definitely read this book, for both, Prelims and Mains.
4. Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra
Most questions on Indian History 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.
5. Brief History of Modern India
What Bipin Chandra’s book leaves out, Spectrum’s Brief History covers well including Social Reform movements of 19th Century, important details of all the pro-independence movements of 20th Century etc. It is a handy reference book for Modern Indian History.
6. Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
As you know Art and Culture is an important topic for both Prelims and Mains. Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania covers all the aspects of this topic in detail so you don’t have to refer different sources for information on Indian art and culture.
7. Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
Mc Graw Hill’s Indian Economy covers the entire Economy syllabus quite well. It covers all the relevant sub-sectors of Indian economy like Planning, Industrialization and Policy, Agriculture, Economic Reforms, Inflation, Banking, External Trade and so on.
8. Physical Geography by Goh Cheng Leong
Another very important book to read is Certificate Course in Physical Geography by Goh Cheng Leong to tackle questions related to physical geography. Whether it’s Climate, Earthquakes, Winds, or Oceans everything is covered in this book on Physical Geography.
Also refer class XI and XII Geography NCERTs.
9. Science and Technology by Ravi Agrahari
Science and Technology is a current affairs related topic for Prelims and Mains and apart from updating it from news sources, there is a good book written by Ravi Agrahari and published by Mc Graw Hill for UPSC Prelims and Mains preparation. It covers all aspects of Science and Technology from basic to advanced level making it easy to understand for non-science background IAS aspirants.
Infographic: Recommended Books for UPSC Preparation
Recommended Books for UPSC Mains
Above I have listed the reference books for Prelims and topic-wise books for Prelims and Mains. In this section you will find the recommended books for preparing General Studies papers of IAS Mains, exclusively.
1. Solved Papers for General Studies
Just like I recommended topic-wise solved papers for Prelims, similarly you should refer topic-wise solved papers for GS Mains as well since you will know the current trend of UPSC questions in Mains and also the importance of various topics of the 4 GS papers.
2. India Since Independence by Bipin Chandra
The GS Paper-1 syllabus covers developments in modern Indian history right till the present period and the best book to cover the post-Independence developments is India Since Independence by Bipin Chandra and other authors. It covers the significant prime ministerial tenures and is updated regularly.
3. Governance in India by Laxmikanth
GS Paper-2 deals with governance issues and M. Laxmikanth’s Governance in India is the most recommended book to cover all topics of this paper. Read this book in addition to Indian polity by the same author referred earlier and GS Paper-2 syllabus of the Mains is taken care of.
4. Challenges to Internal Security of India
Internal Security, its challenges and disaster management is one of the key parts of GS Paper-3 syllabus and this topic is handled quite well along with focus on disaster management (so you don’t need to refer separate book on disaster management) in the book Challenges to Internal Security of India by Ashok Kumar and Vipul.
5. Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Karthikeyan
Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by M Karthikeyan covers the entire syllabus of GS Paper-4 comprehensively. This paper tests the values held by a candidate against the core values of the civil services and the book by Karthikeyan helps to instil the values required of the civil services in a young civil servant.
BOOKS FOR IAS OPTIONALS
Above, I’ve listed and described books for IAS Prelims and Mains preparation in detail. You can also find recommended books for popular UPSC optional subjects for Mains exam by following the links below:
This page contains an exhaustive list of IAS books.
You can also refer to the Top 10 Books for UPSC Civil Services Exam here.