UPSC Book List - Best Books for UPSC IAS Prelims and Mains

The Best Books for UPSC Civil Services Examination preparation are those that offer a well-organized and comprehensive coverage of the syllabus. These books should help you save time by providing detailed explanations and stay updated with the latest changes in the exam pattern and content. Selecting the right UPSC CSE Books is crucial for each stage of the exam. The Prelims consist of objective-type questions, while the Mains require descriptive answer writing skills. It's essential for aspirants to be discerning in their choice of books and categorize their reading list into Prelims and Mains preparation materials.

UPSC General Studies BooksPolity Books for UPSC
Books for Environment and EcologyScience and Technology Books for UPSC
Art and Culture Books for UPSCCSAT Books for UPSC
NCERT Books for UPSC

Best Books for UPSC Prelims

The Best Books for UPSC Prelims are the ones that cover the syllabus of General Studies Paper 1 and Paper 2 (CSAT) and all the essential topics for each General Studies like History, Geography, Environment, Economics, Polity, Art and Culture etc. Here is a list of all the important UPSC Prelims Books one should read to prepare for the exam:

SubjectUPSC Book List
Indian Polity
  • Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth
  • Vajiram & Ravi Indian Polity Part 1 and Part 2
  • Economic Development & Policies in India – Jain & Ohri
International Relations
  • Tata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual
  • Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning by R S Aggarwal
Science & Technology Vajiram & Ravi Science & Technology

UPSC Book List for Mains

Aspirants who clear the UPSC Prelims Examination become eligible for the UPSC Mains examination. The Mains exam consists of 9 theory papers, of which 2 are optional. For the UPSC Preparation, aspirants can refer to the following recommended books for general studies:

SubjectUPSC Books
History, Indian Heritage & Culture (GS Paper 1)
  • Ancient India by RS Sharma
  • India after Independence by Bipan Chandra
  • History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra
  • Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
  • India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra
  • Vajiram & Ravi World History
Geography (GS Paper 1)
  • Geography of India by Majid Husain
  • World Atlas (Orient Black Swan)
  • Certificate Physical and Human Geography by G C Leong
  • World Geography by Majid Husain
  • Fundamentals of Physical Geography NCERT Class 11
Polity & International Relations (GS Paper 2)
  • Introduction to the Constitution of India by DD Basu
  • Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth
  • International Relations: Pushpesh Pant
Economy (GS Paper 3)
  • Environment and Disaster Management by Tata McGraw Hill
  • Indian Economy – Nitin Singhania
  • Challenges to Internal Security of India by Ashok Kumar
Ethics (GS Paper 4)

UPSC Books for Optional Subjects

Your Optional Subject Paper 1 and Paper 2 in total carries a total of 500 marks accounting for a significant weightage in UPSC Mains. To prepare for these subjects, it is extremely important to use the right books:

Optional SubjectsBest UPSC Books
  • Agronomy By Yellamananda Reddy
  • Soil Science – D.K Das Or Brady
  • Genetics By B.D.Singh
  • Entomology – Vasantha Raj & David
  • Special Issue of Agriculture by The Hindu

Paper 1:

  • Braintree material
  • Physical Anthropology – P Nath
  • Anthropology Simplified – Vivek Bhasme (very good source for diagrams and answer structuring)
  • Anthropology – Ember and Ember


Paper 2:

  • Indian Anthropology -Nadeem Hasnain
  • Tribal India – Nadeem Hasnain
  • Anthropology Simplified- Vivek Bhasme
  • The Tribal Culture of India – LP Vidyarthi


To get the complete list of Anthropology Books for UPSC, click on the link provided here.

Public Administration
  • Public Administration by Laxmikanth
  • Vajiram & Ravi Public Administration Books
  • New Horizons Of Public Administration by Mohit Bhattacharya
  • Administrative Thinkers by D. Ravindra Prasad
  • Contemporary Debates in Public Administration by Dhameja Alka
  • Indian Administration by Maheswari
  • Introduction to the Constitution of India by D.D. Basu


To get the complete list of Public Administration Optional Books, click on the link provided here.

Political Science and International Relations

Paper 1:

  • An Introduction To Constitution- D.D. Basu
  • An Introduction To Political Theory- O.P Gauba
  • Fifty Major Political Thinkers- Ian Adams And R W Dyson
  • A History Of Political Thought: Plato To Marx – Subrata Mukherjee And Sushila Ramaswamy
  • An Oxford Companion To Politics In India – Niraja Gopal Jayal And Pratap Bhanu Mehta
  • Foundations Of Indian Political Thought- V.R Mehta
  • A New Look At Modern Indian History- B.L Grover And Alka Mehta
  • India’s Struggle For Independence – Bipan Chandra
  • Indian Government And Politics – B L Fadia

Paper 2:

  • India’s Foreign Policy – V P Dutt
  • International Organisations- Spectrum Books Publication
  • International Relations – V N Khanna
  • Challenge And Strategy: Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy- Rajiv Sikri
  • Does The Elephant Dance?: Contemporary Indian Foreign Policy- David M. Malone
  • Global Politics- Andrew Heywood
  • MPS-004 Comparative Politics: Issues And Trends By Expert Panel Of GPH


To get the Complete List of PSIR Optional Books, click on the link here.


Paper 1:

  1. W. T. Stace: A Critical History of Greek Philosophy (Plato and Aristotle).
  2. Copleston: A History of Philosophy (Relevant Chapters from volume I, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX & XI).
  3. Anthony Kenny: A New History of Western Philosophy. OUP Oxford.
  4. Datta & Chatterjee: An Introduction to Indian Philosophy. Rupa Publishing.
  5. C. D. Sharma: A Critical Survey of Indian Philosophy. MLBD.
  6. Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy.
  7. Bertrand Russell: A History Of Western Philosophy


Paper 2:

  1. John Hick: Philosophy of Religion.
  2. Michael B. Wilkinson: Philosophy of Religion: An Introduction.
  3. O. P. Gauba: Social & Political Philosophy.
  4. Political Theory, An Introduction. Edited By Rajeev Bhargava & Ashok Acharya.
  5. Oxford Dictionary of Politics.


To get the complete list of Philosophy Optional Books, click on the link shared here.

Commerce and Accountancy 

Paper 1:


  • Accounting Corporate Accounting – Naseem Ahmed
  • Accounting Standards- D. S. Rawat
  • Auditing Students’ Guide to Auditing- Aruna Jha
  • Income Tax book by- V.K. Singhania or Girish Ahuja
  • Cost Accounting; Theory & Problems- Maheshwari & Mittal


Paper 2:

  •  Human Resource Management- C.B. Gupta
  • Industrial Relations- T.N. Chabra and R.K. Suri
  • Dynamics of Industrial Relations- C.B. Mamoria and Satish Mamoria
  • Human Resource Management- K. Aswathappa


To get the complete list of Commerce and Accountancy Optional Books, follow the link here.

  • A New Look at Modern Indian History From 1707 to the Modern Times- Alka Mehta and B L Grover S
  • Mastering Modern World History- Norman Lowe (Best book for World History UPSC)
  • The Penguin History Of Early India: From The Origins To AD 1300- Romila Thapar
  • Age of Revolution 1789-1848- Eric Hobsbawm
  • History of Medieval India- Satish Chandra
  • History Of Modern India- Bipan Chandra
  • India’s Ancient Past- Ram Sharan Sharma
  • Modern Indian History- Bipan Chandra


To get the complete list of History Books for UPSC, click on the link provided here.


Paper 1:

  • Human Geography by Majid Husain
  • A Geography by Population by R.C. Chandna
  • Goh Cheng Leong
  • Oceanography by Sharma & Vatal
  • Physical Geography – Made Simple, Rupa Publisher
  • Physical Geography by Savindra Singh
  • Economic and Social Geography – Made Simple by Rupa Publisher
  • Environmental Geography by Savindra Singh
  • Environmental Geography by Saxena


Paper 2:

  • Economic and Commercial Geography of India by Sharma & Coutinho
  • Economic and Commercial Geography of India by C.B. Mamoria
  • Geography of India – Majid Husain
  • Transport, Communication, and Trade
  • Regional Development and Planning
  • Agriculture Geography by Majid Husain


To get the complete List of Geography Books for UPSC, click here.


Paper 1:

  • Schaum’s outline on Linear Algebra.
  • Krishna Series on Matrices
  • Krishna Series on Differential calculus
  • Krishna Series on Integral calculus
  • Mathematical Analysis by Malik and Arora

Paper 2:


  • Abstract Algebra, Group Theory by R Kumar (Vardhaman Publications)
  • Abstract Algebra, Ring Theory by R Kumar (Vardhaman Publications)
  • Abstract Algebra by Joseph Gallian (optional)
  • Mathematical Analysis by Malik and Arora
  • Real Analysis by MD Raisinghania


To get the complete list of Maths Optional Books, click the link provided here.


Paper 1:

  • Introduction to Sociology by Anthony Giddens
  • Sociological Theory by George Ritzer
  • Sociology Themes and Perspectives by Haralambos & Holborn
  • A Dictionary of Sociology by John Scott
  • Sociological Thought by Francis Abraham and John Henry Morgan
  • An Introduction to Political Theory by O P Gauba


Paper 2:

  •  Social Change in Modern India by M N Srinivas
  • Caste Its Twentieth Century Avatar by M N Srinivas
  • Handbook of Indian Sociology by Veena Das
  • Indian Society: Themes and Social Issues by Nadeem Hasnain
  • Modernization of Indian Tradition by Yogendra Singh
  • Rural Sociology by S.L Doshi and P.C Jain
  • Social Background of Indian Nationalism by A R Desai


To Get the complete List of Sociology Books for UPSC, click here.


Paper 1:

  • Modern Microeconomics – A. Koutsoyiannis
  • Advanced Economic Theory: Microeconomic Analysis – H. L. Ahuja
  • Macroeconomic Theories & Policies – R.T. Froyen
  • Macroeconomics - H. L. Ahuja
  • Monetary Economics – S. B. Gupta
  • Public Finance – Musgrave & Musgrave
  • RBI Website for Banking Concepts & latest Monetary Policy 


Paper 2:

 Economic History of India: 1857-1947 – Tirthankar Roy

  • The New Oxford Companion to Economics in India – Edited by Kaushik Basu
  • Indian Economy Since Independence - Uma Kapila
  • Economic Survey: Current & Last year


To get the complete list of Economics Books for UPSC, follow the link shared here.

  • Introduction to Psychology Morgan & King
  • Systems & Theories of Psychology Krawiec & Chaplin
  • Psychology by Morgan and King
  • Psychology by Ciccarelli
  • Social Psychology Baron & Byrne
  • Theories of Personality Hall & Lindzey
  • Psychology Robert A Baron
  • Statistics for Psychology by Aron, Aron, Coups
  • Social Psychology by Robert Baron, Branscombe, Gopa Bhardwaj, Byrne
  • Tests, Measurements and Research Methods in Behavioural Sciences by A K Singh – Bharti Bhawan publications
  • Social Psychology by Robert Baron, Branscombe, Gopa Bhardwaj, Byrne
  • The Psychology of Small Groups Shaw 


To get the complete list: Psychology Books for UPSC

Importance of Following Good UPSC Books

Following good UPSC books is crucial for effective preparation for the Civil Services Examination. These books serve as invaluable resources that provide comprehensive coverage of the syllabus and help candidates understand the concepts thoroughly. Here's why it's important to follow good UPSC books:

  1. Comprehensive Coverage: Good books cover the entire UPSC syllabus in a well-organized manner. They address all the topics and sub-topics comprehensively, ensuring that candidates have a solid understanding of each subject.
  2. Conceptual Clarity: These books explain concepts in a clear and concise manner, making it easier for candidates to grasp complex topics. They provide in-depth explanations, examples, and illustrations to help candidates build a strong conceptual foundation.
  3. Updated Content: The UPSC exam pattern and syllabus undergo periodic revisions, and good UPSC books are regularly updated to reflect these changes. Following updated books ensures that candidates are aware of the latest developments and are well-prepared for the exam.
  4. Time-saving: Good books help candidates save time by providing relevant and concise information. They eliminate the need to refer to multiple sources, thereby streamlining the preparation process and allowing candidates to focus on studying effectively.
  5. Practice Questions: Many books include practice questions and previous years' papers, allowing candidates to assess their understanding and practice answering different types of questions. This helps candidates gauge their preparedness and identify areas that require further attention.

Overall, following good UPSC books is essential for candidates looking to crack the Civil Services Examination. These books not only provide comprehensive coverage of the syllabus but also help candidates build a strong conceptual foundation, stay updated with the latest developments, and practice effectively for the exam.

Other Resources

Apart from Books, an aspirant can refer to various other UPSC Study Material curated by experts that can help in saving time and increase reading efficiency. List is a list of resources that you can use to add to your reading:

Daily Prelims PointersMains ArticlesQuest Notes
Monthly Current Affairs MagazinePrelims Quick Revision Mains Probable
Yojana Magazine SummaryKurukshetra Magazine SummaryEconomic Survey
UPSC Mains Answer Writing PracticeDaily MCQs for UPSCThe Analyst - Daily Newspaper Analysis