Books for IAS are considered invaluable when preparing IAS. No one can say that they have not studied the books relevant to the IAS exam during IAS preparation. IAS toppers and educators are stressed out to read the best books available in the market both online and offline.


Although the basic concepts are the same in all books, the application of the concept makes all the difference, so some books are considered excellent books. The main problem is to make a selection of relevant or excellent books that are perfectly relevant and effective in preparing the IAS.


Therefore, we have compiled a list of essential books for the IAS exam suggested by IAS toppers over the past few years. These books have helped me a lot in preparing IAS and getting maximum marks in all stages of IAS exam.


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By selecting the books mentioned below, IAS candidates can save their precious time while preparing for the exam and get high marks. The books suggested in this write-up have good coverage on the topics of UPSC IAS exam syllabus.


In such a situation many questions and criticisms about the importance of books are likely to arise. Technology can know everything in this world at its fingertips as it goes through its best times. The first question, then, may be why just writing is preferred in a major exam like UPSC.


In this UPSC Books article, we provide you with a list of the best books for IAS Exam Preparation. The UPSC Syllabus is known to be very broad and there are a number of books that need to be read. We have tried to provide you with an extensive list of books for the preparation of the UPSC IAS Examination.


The IAS or the Civil Service Exam shall be administered by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and has three stages- preliminary, mains, and the interview or personality development level.


Before going in depth, let us look into the importance of IAS reference books.


Since they are the most basic books, a clear and unbiased view written in very simple language is the basis for the whole preparation of reference books like NCERT. From these books one can get basic information for geography and history.


Second, the language in which the mains answer is written should be similar to the writing style of these books, which make them a basic component when preparing for the mains exam.


NCERT books can be considered as the basic and first step to start your preparation for the Civil Service Examination. Because these books are so well-crafted and non-partisan, you will regard its information as an absolute truth and make factual notes out of it, especially for history and geography.


NCERT books make it easy to understand and comprehend ideas. Therefore, aspiration should be considered as the first step in climbing the ladder of success to complete the exam.


NCERT Textbooks


NCERT Textbooks from classes 6-12 are the best books that are quite relevant and effective to start your IAS preparation. NCERT Textbooks are published by the authorities under the government of India and are beneficial to build a strong foundation to crack this challenging examination. These books, which are lucid and written in simplified language, help score high marks in both prelims and mains examination. The multiple thorough comprehensions of these well-articulated textbooks enable aspirants to clearly grasp the basic ideas and provide insights about every subject. With proper planning and preparation, you can perceive the ample subject information in NCERT books.


History of Modern India – by Bipan Chandra


Indian history is an integral part of the UPSC syllabus, which plays a crucial role in getting good marks in Prelims and Main exams. “History of Modern India” by Bipan Chandra is one of the best books relevant in the study of the very vast topic “modern Indian history”. This book has good coverage of the history of colonial India from the eighteenth century to the twentieth century. The aspirants should go through the book to understand how the social conditions prevailing in India at that time helped the British East India Company to establish its rule over the Indian subcontinent. This book is really helpful to better understand the construction of modern India and thereby effectively address the questions in the exam.


Indian Art and Culture – by Nitin Singhania


This book is a comprehensive textbook for IAS aspirants that cover the entire syllabus of Indian Heritage and Culture for General Studies Paper I. It presents an overview of distinct Indian Art, culture, paintings, music and architecture along with pictorial presentations that make it intriguing and easy for readers. The book comprises the essential details about the relevant topics of Indian art and culture for UPSC examination. The plethora of questions accompanied at the end of the chapter intends to check the understanding of the readers, which is advantageous for students to prepare for the IAS examination.


Indian Polity – by M. Laxmikanth


This book is very well-written on the subject of Indian Polity and is recommended by each and every IAS topper. It is one of the consistent best-selling books, and aspirants of many competitive examinations, particularly those of the civil services, will find this book worth reading. As a subject related to the functioning of the government, this topic is of great significance, even after the three phases of the IAS examination. This book, which covers the entire Indian political and constitutional spectrum, is considered the most reliable book for the Indian Polity and Governance section of General Studies Paper I in the UPSC syllabus.


Indian Economy – by Ramesh Singh


“Indian Economy” written by Ramesh Singh is one of the most recommended books for the students preparing for the UPSC civil services examination. The Indian economy section is exceptionally crucial for the UPSC civil services prelims exam point of view because an average of around 14-15% weightage is given for this section in the Exam. The book is a must-read for the aspirants as it covers all topics of the subject in the UPSC syllabus in a detailed manner, including the basics of micro and macroeconomics, and current developments in the Indian economy. This book explains the subject so well that even a student with little knowledge of the subject can get conceptual clarity.


India’s Struggle for Independence – by Bipan Chandra


This book is one of the most trusted and extensively read books among the aspirants. “India’s Struggle for Independence” by Bipin Chandra clearly explains the various events of India’s epic struggle for freedom against the British rule and the impact it had on the people. The author has provided a wide-ranged description of all the Indian independence movements and fights, from the revolt against the British in 1857 to India’s independence in 1947, making it an excellent reference to UPSC modern Indian history. This book is a must-have for IAS aspirants and is recommended by every UPSC IAS topper.


Oxford School Atlas – by Oxford Publishers


Oxford school atlas by Oxford publishers is your go-to book for studying the geography section in UPSC syllabus. The latest edition of the atlas contains 235 clear and intelligible maps, including 121 thematic maps of India supported by charts and diagrams. Presenting cartographic details accurately and in-depth, this map book covers topics such as agriculture, climate, environmental concerns, natural vegetation, wildlife, minerals, demography, industry, socio-economic developments, human development, flags, GDP and much more, making it easier and more convenient for students to learn. This book is imperative for IAS aspirants as map-based questions are asked in the Prelims exam and the Geography optional paper in the IAS Mains exam.


Certificate Physical and Human Geography — by Goh Cheng Leong


“Certificate Physical and Human Geography” is an excellent book that caters to the requirements of the students preparing for different competitive examinations like the IAS exam. This book is a best-seller, recommended by almost all the toppers as well as UPSC experts as it has detailed coverage of all topics in the geography syllabus for prelims and mains. It encompasses the core concepts along with the elementary details of physical geography and human geography in an easy to understand manner. The section of questions given at the end of each chapter helps to test the comprehension of the concepts contained therein.This reference book is a compilation of topics like the weather and climate, different types of natural vegetation, mountain range, desserts, natural climatic patterns, glaciers, minerals, volcanoes, earthquakes etc. The author presented the content in a well-illustrated manner with many photographs, diagrams and maps, which will arouse the readers’ interest.


Economic Survey – by the Ministry of Finance


This book offers the most authoritative and up-to-date information covering the broad field of knowledge on the Indian economy. The survey is a comprehensive report of the country’s economic performance, including significant economic developments, key policy initiatives of the government and their upshots over the past 12 months. This chief annual document of the Ministry of Finance of the Government of India also mentions the highlights of the Union Budget and is presented in the Parliament every year ahead of the Union Budget. This important book, which helps understand the Indian economy, politics and various government schemes, is divided into two volumes.


India Year Book – by Publications Division (India)


“India Year Book” is one of the most preferred books that IAS aspirants should read while preparing for the examination. This reference book is an annual publication issued by the publication division that functions as a publishing house of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (India). It is an authoritative compendium of the whole information about the country’s current affairs, including state policy, public schemes, report of all the ministries under the Government of India, all aspects of development, important events and essential data related to demographics, trade, economy, and much more. This comprehensive text is a must-have for the preparation of the current affairs section in the UPSC syllabus.


Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Examination – by G. Subba Rao and P. N. Roy Chowdhury


Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Examination is an excellent book meant for civil service aspirants written by two retired IAS officers. General Studies-IV in the UPSC Mains syllabus is titled as “Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude.” This paper in UPSC mains is chiefly intended to examine aspirants’ problem-solving ways to different social issues, and their attitude and approach towards integrity and probity in public life. This book is a comprehensive text on the subject and is considered very helpful by students appearing for the prestigious IAS examination and other competitive examinations. A set of self-assessment test questions have been put for practice in the book, which helps the readers obtain the clarity of topics.


Comments and suggestions from students and teachers are included extensively in this book, taking into account its reality and acceptance. In addition, the book clearly explains the nature of the questions through years of research and suggestions on how to answer them. New subjects and case studies have given its reality without any leakage.


A Modern Approach to Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – by R.S. Aggarwal


A modern approach to verbal & non-verbal reasoning authored by Professor R.S. Aggarwal is considered the best book for UPSC CSAT (Civil Services Aptitude Test). General Studies Paper-II in the UPSC prelims is known as the CSAT, which is intended to assess an IAS aspirant’s problem-solving skills by examining their analytical skills, logical ability, and aptitude. This book, prepared by incorporating the syllabus of various competitive examinations, captures the latest examination patterns and the verbal and non-verbal reasoning questions have been arranged based on that. The author has added a massive number of problems and solutions to help the aspirants to practise the presented material and master the whole process by improving their reasoning skills. The book is divided into two sections, entitled Verbal Reasoning and Non-Verbal Reasoning. The first section, Verbal Reasoning, is divided into two subdivisions, General Mental Ability and Logical Deduction. These subdivisions describe the various methods by which verbal reasoning is tested and the logic to be applied to reach the answer. The second section, Non-Verbal Reasoning, presents how to solve non-verbal logical questions through an analytical approach. Recommended by IAS Toppers, this book will unquestionably assist you in preparing for the IAS exam.


The Wonder That Was India – by Arthur Llewellyn Basham


Over the years, “The wonder that was India”, a book on Indian history, has earned the reputation of being one of the best books in the subject and has helped the IAS aspirants score high in the UPSC examination. This book constitutes a remarkable overview of Indian history from the time of Indus valley civilization (Harappan civilization), including culture, religion, literary traditions, governance, social evolution, philosophy languages, and science. With the support of extensive research and discoveries, the author also illustrates the Aryan invasion theory in this book. With the support of extensive research and discoveries, the author also illustrates the Aryan invasion theory in this book. Apart from this, it closely monitors the evolution of Hinduism and the significant role this religion played on people’s lives. The author gives a glimpse of modern Indian society and culture as well. This is an excellently written book that provides a whole lot of valuable information on the subject and is advantageous for IAS exam preparation, especially for those taking history as an optional subject.


Challenge and Strategy: Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy – by Rajiv Sikri


This book on India’s foreign policy is an efficient guide for aspirants preparing for the UPSC civil services examination. “Challenge and strategy: rethinking India’s foreign policy” written by Rajiv Sikri, a renowned Indian Foreign Services Officer, elucidates India’s diplomacy. This book analyses the foreign policy pursued by India, to ensure that the country preserves its place for manoeuvre, to follow an independent foreign policy in the global scenario of the 21st century. The author has lucidly and analytically explained the crucial issues such as energy security, economic diplomacy, and interactions between diplomacy, defence and foreign institutions without losing any of its severity. This is the most preferred book that caters to the needs of the students in preparing for the static portion of International Relations (IR) in the UPSC syllabus.




On the journey to achieve the dream of becoming an IAS officer, picking the best IAS books for learning will facilitate your preparation for the prestigious UPSC civil services examination. By providing the above list of books recommended by IAS toppers, we have endeavoured to give an overview of the must-have books needed for acing the UPSC prelims and mains. In addition to these reference books, reading newspapers, checking the latest information from the Press Information Bureau (PIB) and exploring other important websites/applications are also relevant for understanding the current issues and thereby, getting high marks in the exam. Don’t get puzzled by the plethora of books available, choose the right books and study hard by sticking to the syllabus. With this, you can undoubtedly conquer the most challenging IAS exam.