Must Read Books for IAS Mains Preparation

The civil services mains examination is a written examination which decides the fate of aspirants. It is descriptive in nature. In mains exam, it demands reading extra books as there are new topics like Ethics, Internal security, and international Relations etc. To succeed in UPSC IAS mains exam wide reading is essential. Apart from NCERT, it is highly suggested to read the general book. The Books suggested for UPSC Civil Service Mains Exam partly cover with many books recommended for UPSC Prelims.

Know more about UPSC Syllabus and IAS Exam

Here we are giving a complete list of must read books for IAS mains preparation. This will help one aspirant to widen his or her knowledge. The additional reading will help you to frame good answers also. Get the  General Studies Mains Syllabus – Paper I to IV for UPSC Exam 

List of Books for UPSC Mains



Indian Heritage and Culture, History and Geography of the World and Society



According to UPSC, Indian culture covers the features of Art Forms, Literature, and Architecture from ancient to the modern time period. The culture is an important topic for prelims and history. This is a part of history. This topic contains the art, literature, lifestyle, architecture etc.

  • Indian Art and Culture – Nitin Singhania
  • India’s Ancient Past – R.S. Sharma
  • The Wonder That Was India – A.L. Bhasham


The history is an essential part of UPSC General Studies Paper I. The below-mentioned books are essential for General Studies paper I.  As per the UPSC Mains syllabus, it also deals with world history along with modern India. History of the world comprises of various events and their outcome on the society like the industrial revolution, colonization, world wars, re-draw of national boundaries, decolonization, and political philosophies etc. to answer this Paper one need wide reading. The below-mentioned books will help you to build strong stuff for Mains examination.

  • Mastering Modern World History -Norman Lowe 
  • History of Modern World – Jain and Mathur 
  • India After Gandhi – Ramchandra Guha 
  • India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra.
  • History Of Modern India – Bipan Chandra


The geography plays a prominent role in both prelims and mains examination. It is very easy subject once you thorough with concepts. For basic reading, NCERT books are enough. But for writing a good polished answer in UPSC mains examination deep reading should be done. Here are listing some useful books for extra reading which will really help you to fetch good marks in mains especially in General studies Paper I.

  • Geography of India – Majid Husain
  • A Comprehensive Geography Book  -Khullar
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography – Goh Cheng Leong




Governance, Constitution, Polity, Social Justice and International relations



Normally, everybody says that NCERT enough for tackling g the Polity paper. But, if you really want to write excellent answer you must have to read some detailed references.

  • Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations – M. Laxmikanth
  • Social Problems in India – Ram Ahuja
  • Governance in India for Civil Service Examination

Foreign policy

With the inception of the new government, the importance of foreign relation has gained a significant importance in UPSC examination. In this scenario, UPSC may ask a lot of questions from foreign policy and internal affairs.  The candidates with deep reading and analytical skill can answer all these questions. This is an essential portion in General Studies Paper II.

  • Pax Indica – Shashi Tharoor.
  • India and the World- Surendra Kumar



Technology, Economic Development, Bio-diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management



Economics is a dynamic subject. The facts and figures of economics change on a daily basis. So a deep understanding of the subject as well as in the current changes is also needed.

  • Indian Economy – Ramesh Singh
  • Economic Survey



The environment is a part of geography or one both are overlapping subject.  But it comes under general studies paper III.

  • Environment for Civil Services Prelims and Mains – Khuller
  • Environmental Studies For Undergraduate Courses- Erach Barucha
  • Environmental Studies: From Crisis to Cure – Rajagopalan.

Internal security

The internal security is a major topic in General Studies Paper-III. This deals with the internal security issues faced by India, Security forces and their mandates etc.

  • India’s National Security: A Reader.
  • Challenges to Internal Security of India

Science and technology

Science and technology is a vibrant topic. Lots of invention happens daily.

  • Science and Technology in India – TMH



Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude



Ethics was introduced to choose efficient candidates not only on the basis of knowledge. Ethics places dimension in UPSC IAS Examination.  These books will give you basic as well as a deep idea about ethics and related topics.

  • IAS Mains General Studies Paper IV Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude by Arihant Experts
  • Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude- Nanda Kishore and Santhosh Ajmera
  • Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude -M Karthikeyan

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