UPSC Book List – Best Books for UPSC Prelims and Mains 2023, IAS Books PDF

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 20th, 2023

UPSC books are a significant and unavoidable part of the comprehensive study material that must be recommended by aspirants preparing for the Prelims and Mains exams. When it comes to preparing for the Prelims and Mains 2023 exam, selecting the best books for UPSC is crucial for success. The Civil Services exam is known for its vast syllabus and challenging questions, making a comprehensive UPSC book list necessary. These books serve as invaluable resources, providing in-depth knowledge across various subjects such as Indian Polity, History, Geography, Economy, General Science, Ethics, and more.

UPSC Books for History Maths Books for UPSC
UPSC Geography Books UPSC Physics Books
Polity Books for UPSC Anthropology UPSC Books

To help you out, we have compiled a complete list of UPSC books for Prelims and Mains that are recommended by the toppers and exam experts. By delving into these best books for UPSC, candidates can gain a thorough understanding of the subjects, enhance their conceptual clarity, and increase their chances of excelling in the prestigious IAS examination.

UPSC Book List for Prelims

Choosing the best books for UPSC Prelims is crucial to ensure that you have comprehensively covered the entire Prelims Syllabus. The UPSC Prelims exam is an objective exam and is a qualifying round. The UPSC Books for Prelims include books for both Paper 1 and Paper 2 (CSAT). It is essential to focus on the fundamental concepts and cover a wide range of topics. Here is a list of recommended UPSC books specifically tailored for the Prelims exam:

Subject UPSC Books
History India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra

Indian Art & Culture by Nitin Singhania

NCERT Ancient and Medieval – Class 11th

NCERT Modern Indian History – Class 12th

Indian Polity Indian Polity by M Laxmikanth

Economic Development & Policies in India – Jain & Ohri


Geography Orient Black Swan World Atlas

Certificate Physical Geography – G C Leong

NCERT VI to X [Old Syllabus]

NCERT XI and XII [New Syllabus]

International Relations Current Affairs

Contemporary World Politics – Class 12th NCERT

Economics Indian Economy by Nitin Singhania
CSAT Tata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual

Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning by R S Aggarwal

Solved Papers IAS General Studies Prelims Solved Papers – Vishal Publications

The above list contains the relevant UPSC books for Prelims GS Paper 1 and CSAT. Candidates should refer to the latest editions of these books to ensure they cover the updated content. Additionally, regular practice of UPSC previous year question papers and mock tests will help in building exam-oriented knowledge and improving time management skills.

Books for UPSC Mains

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.

Subject UPSC Books for Mains

[GS Paper 1]

India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra

Ancient India by R.S Sharma

History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra

India after Independence by Bipan Chandra

Art and Culture

[GS 1]

Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania

[GS Paper 1]

World Atlas by Orient Black Swan

Geography of India -Majid Husain

World Geography – Majid Husain

Fundamentals of Physical Geography – NCERT 11th

Certificate Physical and Human Geography – G C Leong

Political Science and International Relations

[GS Paper 2]

Indian Polity – M. Laxmikanth

International Relations by Pushpesh Pant

Introduction to the Constitution of India by DD Basu


[GS Paper 3]

Environment and Disaster Management – Tata McGraw Hill

Indian Economy – Nitin Singhania

Ashok Kumar – Challenges to Internal Security of India


[GS 4]

Examination by Subba Rao and P.N. Roy Chaudary

Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Mains

UPSC Books for Mains Optional Subjects

The choice of optional subjects in the Mains paper varies based on individual interests and academic backgrounds. Below are the best books for UPSC optional subjects that can help candidates to get an idea of the amount of time required to prepare for each optional subject. The learning from these UPSC books can be supported from previous year papers and mock tests to score well in the exam.

Subjects UPSC Book List for Optional Subjects
Anthropology Stein & Rowe: An Introduction to Physical Anthropology

N. Hasnain: Tribal India

Surender Nath: Forensic Anthropology

Herskovits: Cultural Anthropology

Herskovits: Cultural Anthropology

Agriculture Agronomy – Yellamananda Reddy

Genetics By B.D.Singh

Soil Science by D.K Das

Special Issue of Agriculture – The Hindu

Entomology – Vasantha Raj & David

Chemistry Extraction of metals, Principle of inorganic chemistry by Puri, Jauhar, Sharma.

Theoretical principles of inorganic chemistry – G.S. Manku,

Peter Sykes – A guide to mechanism in organic chemistry

Advanced Physical chemistry – Gurdeep Raj

Economics International Trade by Bo Soderston

International Economics – Bo Soderston

Banking by S.B. Gupta

National Income Accounting – Bakerman

Botany Taxonomy: Nair along with Datta

Physiology and Biochemistry: Salisbury and Ross or Fritz and Noggle

Embryology: Bhojwani and Bhatnagar

Economic Botany: Kochar or Verma

Management Operations: Adams/Taha

Organisational Design by Khandwala and Madhukar Shukla

Mathematics Linear Programming by SD Sharma

Solid Mechanism – Kazmioo

Real Analysis – Shanti Narayan, Royden

Electrical Engineering Electromagnetic Waves and Field – R.N. Singh

Modern Central Engineering – Ogata

Heat Conversion – Arora & Kundwar

Surveying and Levelling – T P Kanetakar

Psychology Psychology Robert A Baron

The Psychology of Small Groups Shaw

Social Psychology Baron & Byrne

Urdu Urdu Nasr ka Tauqidi Mutala and Urdu Shairi ka Tauqidi Mutala by Suenbul Nigar

Urdu Adab Ki Tarikh – Noorul Hasan Naqvi

History Ashoka and the Decline of the Mauryas – Romila Thapar

History of Modern India – Shekhar Bandopadhyaya/Bipan Chandra

India’s Struggle For Independence – Bipan Chandra and Others

The Wonder That Was India – A.L. Basham

India’s Ancient Past – R.S. Sharma

UPSC Book List 2023 [Subject-Wise]

One of the most important parts of the CSE 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. The list of best books for UPSC for all subjects is shared below:

IPS Books UPSC Books in Hindi
History Book for UPSC in Hindi Sociology UPSC Books
NCERT Books for UPSC Science and Technology Books for UPSC
Political Science Books for UPSC CSAT Books for UPSC

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
Hindi Literature Optional UPSC Books UPSC Books for Economics Optional Tamil Literature Optional IAS Books
UPSC Book List for Public Administration UPSC Books for Philosophy Optional IAS Books for Botany
UPSC Books for Kannada Literature Optional UPSC Gujarati Literature Optional Books Chemistry Optional IAS Books
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 Art and Culture UPSC Books Important Ethics Books for UPSC Exam

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 Prelims and Mains. The booklist is carefully selected and categorized subject-wise for the upcoming exam.

IAS Book List PDF

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

How to Read 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 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 Learning from Best Books for UPSC

The UPSC CSE Exam is considered the toughest exam in the country. One of the reasons is the elaborate syllabus for both prelims and mains. To comprehensively cover the 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 book 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 be a great alternative, and candidates can carry the PDF format anywhere they go.

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