UPSC Books - Best IAS Books For UPSC Civil Services Exam 2023

In this article on UPSC Books, we endeavour to provide you with the list of best books for the IAS Exam 2023 Mains & 2024 exam. 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.

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Find the best strategies to crack the UPSC exams at our IAS Toppers page now!!

The following links will be of immense help to the candidates attempting the exam this year:

IAS 2023 results

Importance of Good IAS Books

UPSC Prelims 2023 was held on 28th May, 2023.

UPSC Prelims 2024 is scheduled for 26th May 2024.

To follow up on the upcoming civil services examination, aspirants may check UPSC Calendar in the linked article.

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 aspirants 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 booklist recommended by experts are listed in this article subject-wise.

Choosing the right IAS exam books online 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 for the upcoming examination of civil services.

UPSC Books – Best Books For UPSC 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. Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
  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 (Orient Black Swan)
Indian Polity
  1. Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth
  1. Indian Economy by Nitin Singhania
  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. Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R S Aggarwal
Solved Papers
  1. IAS General Studies Prelims Solved Papers – Vishal Publications

For more information on CSAT, check the linked article

UPSC BookList – Best Books For UPSC Mains

Candidates who clear the Prelims reach the Mains stage of the IAS Exam. There are 9 theory papers in UPSC 2023 out of which two papers are on the optional subject. Candidates should follow the important IAS general studies Mains books for the best preparation.

Given below are the best general studies books for the UPSC Mains:

Subject UPSC Books
History, Indian Heritage & Culture

[GS Paper 1]
  1. Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
  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 (Orient Black Swan)
  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. International Relations: Pushpesh Pant

[GS Paper 3]
  1. Indian Economy – Nitin Singhania
  2. Environment and Disaster Management – Tata McGraw Hill
  3. Challenges to Internal Security of India – Ashok Kumar

[GS Paper 4]
  1. Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Main Examination by Subba Rao and P.N. Roy Chaudary
Solved Papers
  1. IAS General Studies Prelims Solved Papers – Vishal Publications

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.

The linked articles for UPSC books for Optional subjects are given in the table below:

UPSC Books For Optional Subjects
UPSC Books – History Optional IAS Books – Political Science Optional UPSC Books – Public Administration Optional
IAS Books – Geography Optional UPSC Books – Anthropology Optional IAS Books – Sociology Optional
UPSC Books – Hindi Literature Optional IAS Books – Economics Optional UPSC Books – Tamil Literature Optional
IAS Books – Mathematics Optional UPSC Books – Philosophy Optional IAS Books – Botany Optional
UPSC Books – Kannada Literature Optional IAS Books – Gujarati Literature Optional UPSC Books – Chemistry Optional
IAS Books – Physics Optional UPSC Books – English Literature Optional IAS Books – Telugu Literature Optional
UPSC Books – Statistics Optional IAS Books – Geology Optional UPSC Books – Commerce Optional
IAS Books – Psychology Optional UPSC Books -Electrical Engineering Optional IAS Books – Medical Science Optional
UPSC Books – Agriculture Optional IAS Books – Civil Engineering Optional UPSC Books – Mechanical Engineering Optional
IAS Books – Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Sciences Optional UPSC Books – Law Optional IAS Books – Zoology Optional
UPSC Books – Assamese Literature Optional IAS Books – Sindhi Literature Optional UPSC Books – Kashmiri Literature Optional
IAS Books – Malayalam Literature Optional UPSC Books – Nepali Literature Optional IAS Books – Bengali Literature Optional
UPSC Books – Bodo Literature Optional IAS Books – Konkani Literature Optional UPSC Books – Manipuri Literature Optional
IAS Books – Oriya Literature Optional UPSC Books – Santhali Literature Optional UPSC Books – Urdu Literature Optional
UPSC Books – Maithili Literature Optional IAS Books – Marathi Literature Optional UPSC Books – Punjabi Literature Optional
IAS Books – Sanskrit Literature Optional

Study Material for UPSC

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

  1. 2nd ARC Report (To read more on ARC Reports, check the linked article.)
  2. Economic Survey (Latest)
  3. Budget (Latest)
  4. Finance Commission Report (Latest)
  5. Annual reports by central ministries
  6. Current Affairs
    • The Hindu Newspaper
    • Yojana Magazine
    • Press Information Bureau Releases
  7. Niti Aayog Action Agenda

UPSC Online Books

Currently, candidates also have an option to download e-books. These are easily available online and candidates can easily avail of these. For every subject, a different book is required and aspirants cannot carry the entire bundle along with them anywhere.

Thus, these UPSC online books are easily available and can be accessed from anywhere. Candidates can download them for free using the internet and carry along their PDF files on their laptops or tablets.

These e-books have also become popular as with technology, candidates can get the desired information within seconds without going through every single detail under any of the topics. A PDF format of NCERT books, monthly magazines and other important books is available for free use on the internet and candidates can easily download these UPSC online books.

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.

Download NCERT books in Hindi here.

UPSC IAS Books Related Links:
Complete List of NCERT Books Needed for UPSC Preparation UPSC Optional Subjects 10 Must Read Books for IAS Aspirants
NCERT Books for UPSC Prelims Study Material for IAS Exam: The Complete Guide Best Indian History Books for Civil Services IAS Exam
Best Books for Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude Essential Topper’s Booklist for First Timers UPSC Prelims Study Material List




  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.

    • 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.

  5. It’s really helpful for me because my all doubts are cleared about UPSC

  6. It’s really helpful

  7. Dear Sir
    Please let me know how to start IAS preparation from begining.

  8. why don’t you provided a booklist for management optional

  9. The books you have mentioned above is that mean we don’t have to read other material that material would be enough for upsc?

  10. why don’t you provided a booklist public administration optional

  11. Sir please provide me study material for ias examination

  12. hii sir/madam please help me in getting online access for free NCERT books&standard reference books of UPSC

  13. sir/ma’am can you please tell me how should i begin with the preperation because it is vast.
    and also which subject is mandatory for being an ias officer

  14. Any special book for science and environment

  15. In prelims upsc exam have an optional subjects or not
    Only in mains exams we have an optional subject please tell me the full information about upsc exams

  16. Dear sir/madam,
    Please let me know how to start IAS
    Preparation from beginning

  17. Please prescribe books for sociology as optional

  18. Sir/ma’am
    Do we chose 1 book for a GS papers out of the 3-4 given options or are all mandatory to buy and read ??
    I mean to say do I need to read all the 3-4 books corresponding to each paper that have been given?

    • Hi
      For prelims, one has to read all the books mentioned. For Mains, you can choose one for Polity. For History, if Bipan Chandra’s books look hefty, you may refer to NCERTs, Rajiv Ahir’s Spectrum and Poonam Dahiya’s ancient and medieval history books. Rest books can be read as it is. Make sure that after one reading, you are able to answers previous years UPSC questions.

  19. Plz provide me a booklist for marathi literature [optional subject ]

  20. Hi sir
    It’s really very helpful
    And I have one doubt only this much book is enough for upsc preparation??

    • Hi,
      Yes, you can filter down the books as per your comfort. One has to note that not all books have to read from cover to cover. Go through the UPSC syllabus and old UPSC question papers and then start reading. We are aiming to provide a comprehensive booklist as everyone has a different strategy to study.

  21. Do we have to choose one or two optional subject?
    Or just one and give that specific subject paper twice?

  22. I have douts about mpsc

  23. Can I get law optional booklist