UPSC Books – Best IAS Books For Civil Services Exam 2019

In this article on UPSC Books, we endeavour to provide you with the list of best books for the IAS Exam 2019. The IAS Exam or the Civil Services Exam is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC). The highly prestigious exam is also one of the toughest exams in the country.

Out of a plethora of study material available both online and offline, it is crucial that the candidates select the best books for UPSC IAS preparation.

IAS toppers recommend that aspirant start their UPSC preparation with NCERT books and then move on to the standard reference books.

The best IAS books can vary from candidate to candidate depending on their previous expertise and knowledge of the subject matter. However, the UPSC books recommended by experts are listed in this article subject-wise.

Choosing the right books for different stages of the UPSC exam is quite important. The UPSC Prelims comprises only objective type questions while the IAS Mains contains descriptive essay type question papers.

Not only should the candidates be selective about the UPSC preparation books but also divide the reading list into Prelims and Mains preparation.

Read/download the UPSC Syllabus 2019.

Aspirants can also download the list of best UPSC IAS books from the link below for quick reference.

UPSC IAS Books List PDF: –Download PDF Here

UPSC Books – Best Books For IAS Prelims

There are two papers in Prelims (GS 1 and CSAT) and both are of objective type with negative marking. The best IAS books for Prelims are given below:

Subject UPSC Books
  1. India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra
  2. Facets of Indian Culture – Spectrum
  3. NCERT XI (Ancient & Medieval)
  4. NCERT XII (Modern Indian History)
  1. Certificate Physical Geography – G C Leong
  2. NCERT VI – X (Old Syllabus)
  3. NCERT XI, XII (New Syllabus)
  4. World Atlas
Indian Polity
  1. Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth
  1. Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
  2. Economic Development & Policies in India – Jain & Ohri
International Relations
  1. NCERT XII (Contemporary World Politics)
  2. Current Affairs
  1. Tata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual
  2. CSAT II – Arihant
  3. Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R S Aggarwal

For more information on CSAT, check the linked article

UPSC Books – Best Books For IAS Mains

Candidates who clear the Prelims reach the Mains stage of the IAS Exam. There are 9 theory papers out of which two papers are on the optional subject.

Given below are the best books for the 4 General Studies papers in the UPSC Mains:

Subject UPSC Books
History, Indian Heritage & Culture

[GS Paper 1]
  1. An Introduction to Indian Art Part 1: Textbook in Fine Arts for Class XI
  2. India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
  3. India after Independence by Bipan Chandra
  4. History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
  5. Ancient India by R.S Sharma

[GS Paper 1]
  1. Geography of India by Majid Husain
  2. World Geography by Majid Husain
  3. World Atlas
  4. Certificate Physical and Human Geography – G C Leong
  5. Fundamentals of Physical Geography NCERT Class 11
Polity & International Relations

[GS Paper 2]
  1. Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth
  2. Introduction to the Constitution of India by DD Basu
  3. India’s Foreign Policy by Rajiv Sikri

[GS Paper 3]
  1. Indian Economy – Ramesh Singh

[GS Paper 4]
  1. Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Main Examination by Subba Rao and P.N. Roy Chaudary

In the UPSC mains exam, a candidate has to choose an optional subject also. The optional papers count for 500 marks in total and therefore, it is imperative that the right books are read for the optional subjects also. The following table gives the links to the list of IAS books for the respective optional subjects.

Study Material for UPSC

Apart from the books mentioned above, the essential UPSC Study Material includes:

  1. 2nd ARC Report
  2. Economic Survey (latest)
  3. Budget (latest)
  4. Finance Commission Report (latest)
  5. Annual reports by central ministries
  6. Current Affairs
    • The Hindu
    • Yojana Magazine
    • Press Information Bureau
  7. Niti Aayog Action Agenda

Read Only The Best UPSC Books

  • The UPSC syllabus is vast and it takes at least one year to comprehensively cover it. Therefore, you cannot waste precious time by reading books that are below standard or worse, contain incorrect and unauthenticated information. In this case, you would have to unlearn what you had previously read and this can prove difficult.
  • Learning from the recommended sources would mean you can directly make notes out of it if necessary.
  • There are many books that give information tailor-made for the IAS exam. For instance, Laxmikanth for Polity is a book that you must read if you are taking the UPSC exam. Many questions have been asked that seem to come directly from this book.
  • In addition, many books including the one discussed above, contain information in a ‘notes’ format. So, they are readymade for IAS preparation. You don’t have to waste time trying to make notes.
  • There are many books that are excellently written and contain a whole lot of valuable information. But you have to decide whether they are valuable for the UPSC exam or not. They might make a good read for academics and research scholars. But not necessarily for the UPSC exam. So, you need UPSC books that will help in your preparation and fetch you marks in the IAS exam.


People also ask:

Q1. Which books are the best for Hindi Medium Aspirants in UPSC Exam?

Ans. Hindi Medium Aspirants should read UPSC Hindi Medium Books from NCERT as well as Hindi translations of popular IAS Books.

Q2. Where can I find NCERT books for IAS Exam?

Ans. NCERT books are widely available in bookstores across the country as well as major e-commerce sites. If you cannot find the book you require in a bookstore, you can download NCERT Books/ UPSC Books PDF here.





  3. Really! That was very Helpful – Thanks

  4. Should I only refer ncert books for the entire process or exam or should I refer another sources.

    1. Hi, IAS Toppers recommend the NCERT books as the ideal starting point because of the concise nature of the information, especially the basic facts. However, after NCERT books, an aspirant should refer to subject-specific books like Lakshmikant, Bipin Chandra, Majid Hussain etc. You can find the booklist on this very page.

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