This page lists all the best books for IAS Preparation required for UPSC civil services 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.
Why do you need these books? If you search for UPSC books online, you will get hundreds of book recommendations leaving you confused about books to refer for IAS Preparation.
IAS Kracker solves your problem by listing the best UPSC preparation books for Prelims and Mains on a single page.
So let’s get started.
Recommended Reference Books for IAS (UPSC)
The 6 important reference books for IAS Prelims preparation are listed below. You can buy these books online by clicking the Buy Now link.
Note: You should also refer to these recommended NCERT books for IAS preparation along with the reference books for UPSC listed here.
IAS Solved Papers
Section-wise solved papers help you to analyse the 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.
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 the information in 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 of IAS exam.
CSAT Manual for Paper 2
As you are aware, Paper-2 of UPSC Prelims which is also known as CSAT is only qualifying in scope and marks scored in this paper are not counted for overall merit.
So you can refer just one comprehensive IAS book to cover 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 IAS Prelims Paper 2 (CSAT).
Manorama Year Book (MYB)
A useful Year Book is a must for IAS Prelims preparation since a yearbook collects all the important facts in one place. Manorama Year Book is a recommended source for general knowledge information. Its international events section is also very useful. There are also very useful sections on India, countries of the world, science and technology in this useful book for IAS preparation.
India Year Book (IYB)
India Year Book is the official govt. publication and a very important source of all the schemes and facts and figures related to census and other topics like defence, economy, agriculture, education etc.
India Year Book is also very helpful for current affairs preparation for IAS exam since it contains useful information and facts on the latest government schemes and their outcomes.
Oxford Student Atlas
An atlas is a must for attempting map-related questions. Oxford Student Atlas is the best atlas for IAS preparation since it has the latest and most accurate information presented in a well-illustrated manner.
You will face many map-based questions in UPSC Prelims and there is no better way to prepare for it other than Oxford Student Atlas.
Recommended Topic-wise Books for IAS Preparation
Indian Polity by Laxmikanth
M Laxmikanth’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 Indian polity are also covered.
If there is one book you should refer for IAS Prelims and Mains polity preparation, it is Laxmikanth’s.
Environment by Shankar
Environment and Ecology is a very important topic for Prelims and Mains preparation and many questions are asked from it. Shankar’s Environment is a good reference book for preparing Environment related topics in IAS exam, including, climate change, global warming, various international agreements etc. This IAS book is more useful for Prelims preparation than Mains.
Environment and Ecology by Rajagopalan
What Shankar’s Environment leaves out is covered by this excellent UPSC book called Environment and 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 of UPSC exam.
Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra
Most questions on Indian History in UPSC Prelims and Mains are based on Modern Indian History and the best book to tackle it is Bipin Chandra’s India’s Struggle for Independence. This important book for IAS preparation starts from the 1857 Revolt and continues right till the independence period.
Brief History of Modern India
What Bipin Chandra’s book leaves out, Spectrum’s Brief History of Modern India 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 while preparing for IAS Prelims.
Note: Also refer NCERT books for UPSC on Ancient, Medieval and Modern India.
Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
As you know, Art and Culture is an important topic for both Prelims and Mains. You can expect anywhere between 3-5 questions on this topic in the UPSC Prelims exam. Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania is one of the recommended books for IAS and 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.
Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
Are you looking for the best book for preparing Indian economy for UPSC Prelims? Mc Graw Hill’s Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh covers the entire Economy syllabus quite well. This recommended IAS book covers all the relevant sub-sectors of the Indian economy like Planning, Industrialization and Policy, Agriculture, Economic Reforms, Inflation, Banking, External Trade and so on.
Physical Geography by Goh Cheng Leong
Another very important UPSC book to read is a 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.
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 called Science and Technology 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 an advanced level making it easy to understand for non-science background IAS aspirants.
Recommended IAS Books for UPSC Mains
I have already listed the reference books for IAS Prelims and topic-wise UPSC books for Prelims and Mains. In this section you will find the recommended books for preparing General Studies papers of IAS Mains, exclusively.
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.
India Since Independence by Bipin Chandra
The GS Paper-1 syllabus of IAS Mains exam 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. This important book for UPSC covers the significant prime ministerial tenures and is updated regularly.
Governance in India by Karthikeyan
GS Paper-2 deals with governance issues and M. Karthikeyan’s Governance in India is the most recommended IAS book to cover all topics of this paper. Read this book in addition to Indian polity by the same author referred earlier and your GS Paper-2 syllabus for UPSC Mains preparation is taken care of.
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 a focus on disaster management (so you don’t need to refer a separate book on disaster management) in the book Challenges to Internal Security of India by Ashok Kumar and Vipul.
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 this book for IAS by Karthikeyan helps to instill 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.