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 the 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.

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 – UPSC Exam here.

Visiting our Crucial Strategy for UPSC Exams page will sharpen the edge you need to crack one the toughest examinations in the country. Visit the linked article now!!

The following links will strengthen your UPSC preparation:

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. Culture is an important topic for prelims and history. This is a part of history. This topic contains 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. Basham


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 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 needs wide reading. The below-mentioned books will help you to build strong stuff for the 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 a very easy subject once you are 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 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 books are enough for tackling the Polity paper. But, if you really want to write an 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

Find UPSC Polity Notes at the linked article

Foreign policy

With the inception of the new government, the importance of foreign relations has gained significant importance in the 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 skills can answer all these questions. This is an essential portion of 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 subjects.  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.

You can find UPSC Environment & Ecology Notes at the linked article.

Internal security

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 inventions happen 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 on the IAS Exam. 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

You can find more articles through the links given in the table below. For more topics of similar nature, visit the UPSC Syllabus page.

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