UPSC Books: Best Booklist for UPSC Prelims & Mains Exam | Download UPSC Book List PDF

By Shubhra Anand Jain|Updated : November 30th, 2022

UPSC Books are the most important part of the Civil Services Exams preparation for prelims and mains exams. While shortlisting the UPSC book list, you may find yourself confused and feel like buying every book that is available in the bookstore. But you need to make the right call when it comes to choosing the right books for UPSC preparation. To help you out, we have compiled a complete list of UPSC Books list that are recommended by the toppers and exam experts.

We have prepared a separate list of UPSC Books for Prelims and Mains because the Prelims round comprises only objective-type questions, and Mains deals with descriptive essay-type question papers. You can also check the complete UPSC Book list for optional subjects. However, the Best Books for UPSC can vary from candidate to candidate depending on their previous knowledge and expertise in the subject matter.

Table of Content

UPSC Book List 2023

One of the most important parts of the UPSC exam preparation is choosing the right set of UPSC books for prelims, mains, and optional subjects. Several experts and toppers recommended books to help you curate your UPSC book list to clear the exam with a good score. One of the most important things to remember while choosing the right booklist for UPSC is to have a limited number of books on your list and focus on quality rather than quantity.

Book list for UPSC prelims include both GS and CSAT, whereas UPSC books for mains include compulsory subjects, GS and all optional subjects. We have curated toppers recommended, and experts suggested IAS preparation books, which will help you clear the exam in the first attempt. For your convenience, we have segregated the booklist subject-wise and for different stages. 

  • UPSC Prelims Books - GS + CSAT 
  • UPSC Book List for Mains 
  • Books for UPSC Optional Subjects

Subject-wise segregation of IAS Books is as follows

  • IAS Books for History - Prelims & Mains GS Paper 1 
  • UPSC Book List for Art & Culture
  • IAS Books for Geography - Prelims & Mains GS Paper 1
  • Books for IAS Polity - Prelims & Mains GS Paper 2
  • UPSC Economics Books - Prelims & Mains GS Paper 3
  • UPSC Book List for Environment 
  • Books for IAS - Internal Security
  • UPSC Books for Ethics

Apart from this, a list of NCERT books is also mentioned. 

UPSC Book List PDF

Download the complete UPSC Booklist PDF using the direct link mentioned below. The UPSC Books PDF contains the list of best books for UPSC Prelims and Mains. The booklist is carefully selected and categorized subject-wise for the upcoming exam. 

IAS Books List by Toppers PDF

The books included in the above-mentioned booklist include both standard books for UPSC and the advanced ones to be covered after that. 

UPSC Books for Prelims

The UPSC Prelims exam is an objective exam and is a qualifying round. Choosing the best books for UPSC Prelims is crucial to ensure that you have comprehensively covered the entire UPSC Prelims Syllabus. The UPSC Books for Prelims include books for both Paper 1 and Paper 2 (CSAT). There are plenty of books to choose from for the prelims exam therefore, the best way to begin your exam preparation is by completing the NCERT Books for UPSC for all the subjects.

Standard Books for UPSC Prelims 

  • India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra
  • Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
  • NCERT Class 11 & 12 for Ancient & Medieval
  • Certificate Physical Geography – G C Leong
  • NCERT - Fundamentals of Physical Geography
  • UPSC Books for Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth
  • Indian Economy by Nitin Singhania

Also, go through a detailed strategy on How To Prepare for UPSC Prelims.

UPSC Books for CSAT

The CSAT exam is designed to test the candidates' problem-solving, decision-making, and analytical ability skills. Below we have mentioned some CSAT Books for UPSC that would help you to enhance these skill sets.

  • Tata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual
  • Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R S Aggarwal

Books for UPSC Mains 2023

Those candidates who crack the Prelims stage of the UPSC Exam will have to appear Mains. Here choosing the best booklist for UPSC Mains would give them a headstart with their preparation. Below we will cover the best UPSC books for the Mains round subject-wise that would be helpful for the candidates.

Before choosing the right USPC Mains Books, it is important to understand the UPSC Exam Pattern for the Mains exam as it contains numerous papers. We have categorized the UPSC Book List for Mains subject-wise as per the GS Papers.

  1. UPSC Books for GS1 - History, Indian Art & Culture, Geography
  2. UPSC Booklist for GS Paper 2 -  Polity & IR
  3. UPSC GS Paper 3 Books - Economics, Environment  and Internal Security
  4. UPSC Preparation Books for GS4 Ethics

 

UPSC Books for History 

There are two levels of Books for the UPSC History syllabus. Beginners must go through the NCERT Books or NIOS books for Classes 11 and 12. Candidates must also go through a detailed strategy on How to Prepare History for UPSC.

  • NCERT XI (Ancient & Medieval)
  • NCERT XII (Modern Indian History)

UPSC Book list for UPSC Prelims History

After completing the basic books, you can move on to the following History Books for IAS.

  • India's Struggle for Independence by Bipin Chandra & Others
  • A Brief History of Modern India (2018‑2019) Book by Rajiv Ahir
  • History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
  • Ancient India by R.S Sharma

Booklist for UPSC History [Mains GS Paper 1]

The history section of UPSC Mains Syllabus includes History and Indian Heritage & Culture. In the UPSC Mains exam, world history is also included. Check the selected UPSC Booklist to complete the history section.

  • Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
  • India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
  • India’s Ancient Past by R.S. Sharma, published by Oxford University Press
  • A History of Ancient & Early Medieval India by Upinder Singh
  • History of Medieval India (800–1700 AD) by Satish Chandra, published by Orient Longman
  • India After Independence (1947 - 2000) by Bipin Chandra & Others
  • From Plassey To Partition And After by Sekhar Bandopadhyaya

Best Books for UPSC Art & Culture

Studying Indian culture and heritage for the Prelims exam would be much easier with the following Art & Culture Books for UPSC Prelims. As per the latest trend, 4-5 questions have been asked from Art & Culture every year in the prelims. 

  • NCERT Class 11 – An Introduction to Indian Art Part-I
  • NCERT Class 11 – Living Crafts Traditions of India
  • NCERT Class 12 – Craft Traditions of India
  • Indian Art & Culture By Nitin Singhania

UPSC Booklist for Geography

Geography is asked in both UPSC Prelims and Mains. Go through the Geography Syllabus for UPSC and choose the right books for IAS Exam. It is one of the most important subjects in the exam as many questions are asked in both pre and mains. 

IAS Books for Geography Prelims

Geography Books for UPSC Prelims include both Indian and world geography, and the following are recommended books for this subject.

  • Certificate Physical Geography – G C Leong
  • NCERT VI – X (Old)
  • NCERT XI, XII (New)
  • World Atlas (Orient Black Swan)

Geography Books for IAS Mains [GS Paper 1]

UPSC Books for Geography include all topics, such as Indian And Physical Geography. The best way to cover Geography for the UPSC Mains GS Paper 1 is by covering the NCERTs first before moving on to advanced books. It is fair to assume that aspirants must have covered the basic NCERTs for the UPSC Prelims exam. A compilation of UPSC Geography Notes from the books mentioned can also be referred to for the UPSC Preparation. 

Check the best Geography Books for UPSC Mains below.

  • Geography of India by Majid Husain
  • World Geography by Majid Husain
  • World Atlas (Orient Black Swan)
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography – G C Leong
  • Fundamentals of Physical Geography NCERT Class 11 & 12
  • Indian Geography by D. R. Khullar

UPSC Books for Polity 

Polity is asked in both prelims and mains exams. In the Mains exam, the polity is asked in the form of polity, Governance and IR in GS Paper 2. The best books for UPSC polity are compiled here for your reference. 

Polity Books for UPSC Prelims

Books for UPSC Prelims Polity cover the basic and in-depth understanding of Parliament, Union States, Local Administrations, Constitutions, etc. Following are some recommended books to cover these topics.

  • NCERT Class XI – Political Science: Indian Constitution at Work (New)
  • NCERT Class XII – Political Science I: Contemporary World Politics(New)
  • NCERT Class XII – Political Science II: Politics in India since Independence(New)

Above mentioned Polity Books for UPSC are for building the foundation. Below we have mentioned some standard books for covering the Polity Syllabus for UPSC in a comprehensive manner. 

  • Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations – M. Laxmikanth
  • Important Acts that Transformed India – Alex Andrews George
  • Important Judgments that Transformed India – Alex Andrews George

Booklist for UPSC GS Paper 2 [Polity & IR]

Books for UPSC Mains GS paper 2 include sections that cover polity, governance, and IR. It is important to note that current affairs play a huge part in the GS Paper 2 section. The Best Books for IAS Polity are mentioned below.

  • Constitution of India at Work (Class XI) NCERT
  • Indian Polity by Laxmikant
  • The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper
  • Yojana Magazine
  • Introduction to the Constitution of India by DD Basu
  • International Relations: Pushpesh Pant

IAS Books for Economics

Check the complete UPSC Book List for economics for both UPSC Prelims and Mains. You can also go through the Economy Notes for UPSC to add value and level up. Download the economics syllabus for UPSC to understand the total topics to be covered using the books. 

UPSC Prelims Books for Economics 

UPSC Prelims Books for Economics would give you an in-depth idea about the issues associated with society, economic growth and development, demographics, poverty, etc. here are the best books you can refer to cover these topics.

  • Indian Economy by Nitin Singhania
  • Economic Development & Policies in India – Jain & Ohri
  • NCERT XI

UPSC Books for Economics [Mains GS Paper 3]

The Economics books for IAS Mains focus on conceptual clarity and understanding of everyday economics. Along with the UPSC Mains books for Economics, aspirants must supplement their preparation with the Annual Budget and Economic Survey.

  • Indian Economic Development NCERT Class 11
  • Indian Economy by Sanjiv Verma
  • Indian Economy – Nitin Singhania
  • Introductory Macro Economics NCERT Class 12
  • The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper

UPSC Booklist for Environment 

The environment has become important for the UPSC Exam in recent years. To ensure good marks in Prelims and UPSC GS Paper 3, go through the following Environment books for IAS.

  • Class 12 NCERT Book on Biology (Chapters about Ecology)
  • India Year Book (Chapters on Environment)
  • The chapter on Climate Change from Economic Survey
  • The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper

You can also check Environment and Disaster Management – Tata McGraw Hill. The above-listed UPSC Booklist is useful for both Prelims & Mains GS Paper 3.

UPSC Booklist for Internal Security [Mains GS Paper 3]

Check the best books for UPSC Preparation to cover the Internal Security section of UPSC GS Paper 3.

  • India’s Security in a Turbulent World by Jasjit Singh
  • Challenges to Internal Security of India – Ashok Kumar
  • The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper

Ethics Books for UPSC Exam 2023

Check the complete UPSC Booklist for Ethics to complete the UPSC syllabus for ethics. The ethics paper consists of case studies; therefore, candidates must ensure they cover the books correctly.

  • Ethics in Governance, ARC Report
  • The Book on Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude by Lexicon by Chronicle Publications

NCERT Book List for UPSC

The most important resource for your UPSC Exam preparation is NCERT Books for UPSC; not only would these books help strengthen your concepts, but the beginners would highly benefit from these books.

Subject

UPSC Book List

UPSC Books for History (NCERT)

Ancient History - R. S. Sharma (Old NCERT)

Medieval History - Satish Chandra (Old NCERT)

Modern History - Bipin Chandra (Old NCERT) selective reading

World History - Arjun Dev

Note: Though Old NCERTs are mentioned, new ones can also be referred. What matters is conceptual clarity.

Indian Society

Class 11: Sociology: Understanding Society

Class 12: Indian society

Art & Culture UPSC Book List

Class 11: An Introduction to Indian Art

Class 11: Living Craft Traditions of India (Chapters number 9 & 10)

Class 12: Craft Traditions of India

Geography NCERT for IAS Exam

Class 6: The Earth: Our Habitat

Class 7: Our Environment

Class 8: Resources and Development

Class 9: Contemporary India - I

Class 10: Contemporary India - II

Class 11: Fundamentals of Physical Geography

Class 11: India - Physical Environment

Class 12: Fundamentals of Human Geography

Class 12: India - People and Economy

Economics

Class 10: Understanding Economic Development

Class 11: Indian Economic Development

Class 12: Introductory Microeconomics

Class 12: Introductory Macroeconomics

UPSC Book List for Polity (NCERT)

Class 11: Indian Constitution at work

Class 11: Political Theory

Class 12: Contemporary World Politics

Class 12: Politics in India since Independence

Sociology

Class 12: Social change and development in India

Environment and Ecology

Class 12: Biology: Last four chapters i.e chapters no.13 to 1

Chapters on Biotechnology

a. Class 12: Ecology (Unit 10)

b. Chapter 13: Organisms & Population

c. Chapter 14: Ecosystem

d. Chapter 15: Biodiversity & Conservation

a. Chapter 16: Environmental Issues·

Science and Technology

Class 6 - 10 (All the books)

Class 11 and 12 (Selective)

Class 11: Chemistry (Unit 14) Biology (Units 4 & 5)

Class 12: Chemistry (Unit 16) Biology (Units 8,9 and 10)

UPSC Book List of Optional Subjects 

There are a total of 48 optional subjects in the UPSC mains exam, and candidates can choose any of them. Below we have provided the direct link to all the books for IAS optional subjects.

List of UPSC Books for Optional and Literature Subjects

UPSC Books for History

IAS Books for Political Science Optional

UPSC Book List for Public Administration

UPSC IAS Books for Geography Optional 

Anthropology Optional UPSC Books

IAS Books for Sociology Optional

Hindi Literature Optional UPSC Books

UPSC Books for Economics Optional

Tamil Literature Optional IAS Books

UPSC Books - Mathematics Optional

UPSC Books for Philosophy Optional

IAS Books for Botany

UPSC Books for Kannada Literature Optional

UPSC Gujarati Literature Optional Books

Chemistry Optional IAS Books

UPSC Books for Physics Optional 

English Literature Optional IAS Books

UPSC Books for Telugu Literature Optional

Statistics Optional UPSC Books

UPSC Book List for Geology Optional 

Commerce Optional IAS Books

UPSC Book List - Psychology Optional 

Electrical Engineering Optional Books for UPSC

UPSC Books for Medical Science Optional 

UPSC Book List for Agriculture Optional

UPSC Books- Civil Engineering Optional

IAS Books for Mechanical Engineering Optional

UPSC Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Sciences Optional Books

UPSC Book List for Law Optional

IAS Books - Zoology Optional

Assamese Literature Optional Books for UPSC

Sindhi Literature Optional Books for UPSC Exam

Kashmiri Literature Optional Books for UPSC

IAS Malayalam Literature Optional Books

Nepali Literature Optional Books for UPSC

Bengali Literature Optional Books for UPSC Exam

UPSC Books for Bodo Literature Optional

UPSC Books for Management Optional

Konkani Literature Optional Books for UPSC Exam

IAS Books for Odia Literature Optional

UPSC Book List for Santhali Literature Optional 

Urdu Literature Optional Books for UPSC

UPSC Book List - Maithili Literature Optional

Marathi Literature Optional Books for IAS Exam

UPSC Books - Punjabi Literature Optional

Sanskrit Literature Optional Books for UPSC IAS Exam

Best Polity Books for UPSC

Important Ethics Books for UPSC Exam

Art and Culture UPSC Books

Science and Technology Book for UPSC

 

UPSC Book List in Hindi

आगामी यूपीएससी परीक्षा की तैयारी करने वाले उम्मीदवारों को प्रीलिम्स और मेन्स परीक्षा दोनों के लिए सही यूपीएससी पुस्तकों का चयन करना होगा। चूंकि यूपीएससी पाठ्यक्रम विशाल है, परीक्षा के लिए सही पुस्तक सूची चुनना महत्वपूर्ण है क्योंकि इससे आपको बेहतर योजना बनाने में मदद मिलेगी। उम्मीदवार यहां उल्लिखित लिंक का उपयोग करके डाउनलोड कर सकते हैं। संपूर्ण IAS पुस्तक सूची में प्रारंभिक और मुख्य परीक्षा की पुस्तकें शामिल हैं।

IAS Books List in Hindi

यूपीएससी परीक्षा की तैयारी के सबसे महत्वपूर्ण भागों में से एक प्रारंभिक, मुख्य और वैकल्पिक विषयों के लिए यूपीएससी की किताबों का सही सेट चुनना है। कई विशेषज्ञों और टॉपर्स ने अच्छे स्कोर के साथ परीक्षा को पास करने के लिए आपकी यूपीएससी पुस्तक सूची को तैयार करने में मदद करने के लिए पुस्तकों की सिफारिश की। यूपीएससी के लिए सही किताबों की सूची का चयन करते समय याद रखने वाली सबसे महत्वपूर्ण बातों में से एक यह है कि आपकी सूची में सीमित संख्या में किताबें हों और मात्रा के बजाय गुणवत्ता पर ध्यान दें।

How to Read the UPSC Books?

Many aspirants often face problems because there is a huge amount of UPSC study material to complete in a limited time. Reading too many books for IAS would confuse you. That’s why we have prepared this simple strategy to help you read the UPSC books efficiently.

  • Start picking up only a unit from the UPSC syllabus and choose a book per that unit's content. It would be wise to pick one standard book for a particular subject and build a basic understanding.
  • If you are a beginner, you should start with the NCERT UPSC book list as the content is written in simple language and easily explains the concept.
  • After that, start making notes from the book. Make sure you are covering all the subject topics while creating notes.
  • Highlight the important points so you can glance through them in the revision period.
  • The UPSC exam requires purposeful reading, so make sure you read the books for IAS.

Importance of UPSC Book for the IAS Exam

The UPSC CSE Exam is considered the toughest exam in the country. One of the reasons is the elaborate UPSC syllabus for both prelims and mains. To comprehensively cover the IAS syllabus, one needs to have proper guidance & resources that begin with the right UPSC Book List. 

  • The first step to successful and productive preparation is choosing the right and best books for UPSC Preparation. 
  • The correct books for IAS allow you to have good conceptual clarity and enable you to answer all levels of questions.
  • A good UPSC Books is credible and structured in such a manner that you can comprehend a vast amount of info systemically. 
  • Refer to expert and toppers' recommended UPSC books and select the ones that suit your need. 

UPSC Books Online 

With the advancement of digitalization, candidates can download e-books for IAS. These e-books are easily available online and possess the same content as hardcopy books. Every subject requires several books, and the candidates can't carry those books all the time. Thus online UPSC Books would a great alternative, and candidates can carry the PDF format anywhere they go

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FAQ's on UPSC Book List

  • UPSC Prelims is the screening test to find eligible candidates for UPSC Mains. The difficulty level of the questions will be moderate, so you need to start your preparation with all the NCERT UPSC Books. The NCERTs would help you to strengthen your basic understanding of the topics covered in the UPSC Prelims syllabus. Apart from NCERTs, some UPSC standard books that you can follow are Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth, Geography of India by Majid Husain, Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh, and Introduction to the Constitution of India by D.D. Basu

  • CSAT paper is qualifying in nature, and that’s why candidates need to take this very seriously. No matter if they score big in the Paper-I Prelims exam, if they fail in the CSAT, then they won’t qualify for the Mains. Here are some of the best books for UPSC preparation in CSAT paper.

    • Tata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual
    • Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R S Aggarwal
  • Even though there are tons of choices when it comes to choosing the UPSC Books, candidates must have the following books while preparing for Civil Service Examinations.

    • India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha
    • NCERT books: The Complete Package
    • Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth
    • Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
    • Introduction to the Constitution of India by D.D. Basu
    • India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
  • It won’t be wise to read from the books from IAS during the revision period of time. That is why you must start making notes that can be handy during the revision time. To make notes you must finish the book, and then start covering topic-wise as per the UPSC syllabus. Make sure to add buttle points for important events, facts, or anything you like. Make notes in an organized manner so that you won’t have to spend time finding a particular thing whenever you want.

  • IAS is one of the toughest government exams in the country, and to crack it you will need access to the best IAS books. There are many books that will help you to prepare for IAS but here are some books that you can not miss. 

    • India After Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha
    • NCERT books: The Complete Package
    • Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth
    • Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh
    • Introduction to the Constitution of India by D.D. Basu
    • India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
  • You may find many suggestions for UPSC Books for Prelims or Mains, but at the end of the day it is about how comfortable you are in reading that book. You must choose a book that you find easy to read, and easy to comprehend. You are a beginner then you can start with some basic books, and after some time you can switch to some advanced books.

  • We have provided a direct link to download the UPSC book list for the candidates above in this post. Candidates can download the PDF file and take a printout to keep for future reference. With this PDF file, you can keep the important books for UPSC in check.

  • History is a large part of the UPSC Mains syllabus, and it includes, ancient history, world history, Indian history, etc. to cover these sections you will need the following History books for UPSC Mains:

    • Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
    • India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
    • India’s Ancient Past by R.S. Sharma published by Oxford University Press
    • A History of Ancient & Early Medieval India by Upinder Singh
    • History of Medieval India (800–1700 AD) by Satish Chandra published by Orient Longman
  • It is not the quantity of the UPSC Books but how well you are preparing from a certain book matters. It would be great if you cover most of the books we have mentioned above, but make sure you are not following multiple books for covering one topic. However, it is advised to read books to gather more knowledge on a particular subject.

  • Economics books are a must for the UPSC Preparations as it is included in all stages of the UPSC exam. Beginners can start with Indian Economy by Nitin Singhania, Economic Development & Policies in India – Jain & Ohri, NCERT XI to cover the economics section. These economics UPSC Books have covered the economics section in easy, and simple language.

  • India Year Book is one of the most recommended UPSC Books for the exam to cover current affairs and the latest government schemes. Candidates must target to finish the India Year Book as per chapters as the entire book might look overwhelming. Pick each chapter, revise the GS theory related to it and then add year book notes to your static portion.

  • Candidates who are just beginning their preparation must refer to NCERTs as their standard books for UPSC. In the first reading, the basic NCERT books for UPSC history, geography, polity and economics must be completed.

  • Yes, the IPS Exam is the same as the IAS exam. Therefore, the UPSC book list for prelims and Mains is similar for both exams. The booklist for UPSC optional subjects will vary for all aspirants depending on their choice.

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