Basic Books for UPSC Exam

UPSC Conducts Civil Services Examination every year. Through the examination, successful candidates are inducted as officers into the Indian Civil Services. Once aspirants understand the UPSC Syllabus, the next crucial step is to choose the right books for the examination. Read on to know the best books for UPSC Exam subject-wise and also know why is it important to have the best UPSC books at your disposal.

Candidates preparing for the upcoming UPSC Prelims examination are advised to go through the following links to align their preparation:

Importance of Right Books for IAS

The civil services examination is your window to a career in this illustrious service. The decision to take a shot at the IAS Exam is not to be made lightly as the going will certainly not be easy. There are three rounds to be cleared and the success rate is under 0.1%. Nevertheless, nothing is impossible and with a strong determination and dedicated work, you can beat this exam hands down and earn yourself a rewarding career.

The first requirement in beating your opponent (in this case, the UPSC exam!) is to understand it well. Go through the link mentioned and know what the UPSC exam is all about –  UPSC Exam Pattern.

Once you catch hold of the exam pattern and the syllabus for the civil services examination, you will need the right set of books to start off your journey. The right books for IAS will be helpful in the following manner:

  1. Task Simplified – Once an IAS aspirant knows the books he/she has to read, they in fact simplify their preparation journey.
  2. Right information – As we say, no books are wrong, but the right books are always right for the UPSC exam. With each and every book you gain information but for UPSC exam preparation, all you need is those set of books that provide you apt information on the topics mentioned in the syllabus. Hence, once you zero in upon the right set of books at the very beginning of your preparation; you can easily start your journey as the right aspirant.
  3. Updated Information – There are revised editions of the books that tend to bring the latest information regarding an important topic mentioned in the syllabus. Hence, a right book will be updated.
  4. Makes your tests easier – When you have your hands on the right books for IAS Exam, you will be able to be confident when you sit for the mock tests and the main exam. You will always know that what you are reading from the book is helping you analyse the questions and answer correctly. And that way, your book will have to be called the right book for the IAS exam.

Basic Books for UPSC List

List of Basic Books for UPSC

  1. Ancient History – Old NCERT
  2. Medieval History – Old NCERT by Satish Chandra
  3. Modern History – Old NCERT and Spectrum 
Indian Culture
  1. Fine arts – NCERT
  2. Art & Culture Book by Nitin Singhania
  3. CCRT website
  1. 6 to 12th NCERTs
  2. Physical and Human Geography by G C Leong
  1. 11 and 12th NCERTs
  2. Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
Indian Polity
  1. 6 to 12 NCERTs [Constitution at Work for basics]
  2. Indian Polity by Laxmikanth
Science & Technology
  1. Science & Tech column in The Hindu Newspaper
  2. NCERTs
  1. Updates from Newspapers
  2. Science NCERTs [11th & 12th]

One of the important steps is to start your reading with the basic books for UPSC exam. We have compiled a list of all the basic books you have to grab your copy of in case you are serious about your IAS preparation.

  • NCERT Books

The most basic books that are available for the IAS exam are the NCERT books. These books are an excellent source of reliable and authentic information. Moreover, they are written in a simple and easy to learn the style that makes them all the more indispensable for the UPSC exam. They cover subjects like history, art and culture, geography, economics, polity, environment, and general science. Get the complete list of all the required NCERT books in the linked article. When you read these NCERT books, if you look for NCERT Notes that can be helpful for revision, you can also check the below-linked articles where we have compiled NCERT Notes:

NCERT Ancient History Notes for UPSC NCERT Medieval Notes for UPSC
NCERT Modern History Notes for UPSC NCERT Geography Notes for UPSC
  • Polity – M.Lakshmikanth’s Indian Polity

Apart from the NCERT books, there are a few other basic standard textbooks you must read. For polity, which is an integral part of your GS paper II mains; and also covered in the prelims exam, you can refer ‘Indian Polity’ by M Laxmikanth. This book is like a bible when it comes to polity. It is well-explained and comprehensive. For more information on polity preparation, check the links below:

Tips to Study from Laxmikanth’s Indian Polity Indian Polity Notes for UPSC
Polity Questions for UPSC Mains Constitution Questions for UPSC Mains
  • Economy – Ramesh Singh’s Indian Economy

For economics, you can complement the NCERT books by reading Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh. You should read this so that you can maximize your reading of the newspapers. The most vital source of economic information is the newspaper as it covers current economic news. This is most important from the exam point of view and the Ramesh Singh book will help you understand various terms and phenomenon in economics. A few important articles related to preparation for the Indian Economy are:

Economy & Indian Economy Notes for UPSC Everything About Economy for UPSC Exam
How to Cover Indian Economy in 50 Days for Prelims Economics Questions for UPSC Mains GS 3
  • History – NCERTs + Bipin Chandra’s Books

The go-to book for modern history is India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra. This covers the Indian freedom struggle comprehensively and also focuses on Mahatma Gandhi and his philosophies. For ancient history and art and culture, the basic books recommended are the NCERT ones. To complement your preparation w.r.t history, check the linked articles below:

History Questions for UPSC Mains Art & Culture Questions for UPSC Mains GS 1
How to Prepare History for UPSC Exam Chronology from Ancient History to Modern History
  • Geography – NCERTs + GC Leong

Certificate Physical and Human Geography by G C Leong is a book that covers the elementary details of physical and human geography lucidly explained with many illustrations. This book will help you understand the basics of geography required for the UPSC exam. Don’t miss the linked articles below which will help you remain on track with geography preparation:

Geography Questions for UPSC Mains Free Geography NCERT Books
Geography in a Nutshell for UPSC Exam World Geography Through Maps

For the holistic understanding of UPSC, check the relevant links:

GS 1 Structure, Strategy and Syllabus GS 2 Structure, Strategy and Syllabus
GS 3 Structure, Strategy and Syllabus GS 4 Structure, Strategy and Syllabus
UPSC Cut Off UPSC Notification

UPSC 2023


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