Civil Service Examination is a tough nut to crack, but with the right attitude, resource and determination it is quite easy to clinch a rank.
If you search for materials to help you in your UPSC preparation then you will find plenty of websites full of lists of books for IAS preparation. In reality, if you want to crack the exam in minimum attempts then you have to choose your books wisely so that the whole syllabus would be covered without wasting much of your time.
As I am preparing for IAS, I have listed out below books for me to prepare IAS effectively.
You can also follow these books along with your preferred materials.
Top 15 Books for IAS Preparation
Below is the list of books with their reviews in the recommended order in which they should be read once you start your preparation.
- Indian Polity by M Laxmi Kanth
- A Brief History of Modern India
- NCERT Books
- India after Gandhi (R C Guha)/ India Science Independence (M Laxmikanth)
- Certificate Physical and Human Geography by L C Leong
- Indian geography by Majid Hussein
- Atlas: Oxford or Black Swan
- Indian Economy by Sanjeev Verma or Ramesh Singh
- The environment for Civil Services Prelims and Mains and Other Competitive Examinations By D. R. Khullar
- Economic Survey ( Latest Edition)
Why these books for IAS Preparation?
The Syllabus of IAS is vast, you need to prepare at every angle to answer the questions. The clarity in fundamentals will help you to understand the subject better.
Books are the main source of knowledge to clear the fundamentals.
I am sure, these books will help you to start preparing for your dream prestigious job.
Let’s Discuss the reviews and requirements of these books clearly.
This book needs no introduction itself. There are other books available for Indian polity but no one matches the standard of Laxmi Kanth as it is written according to the Civil Services. Though it’s a fatty one, if you make notes out of it then Indian Polity and Governance would be an easy stuff for you.
A Brief History of Modern India
Most people recommend “History of Modern India” by Bipin Chandra.
Though it’s a very good book for higher studies it was written in a Novel style that doesn’t have bullet points so while revising you will face problems.
Whereas “A Brief History of Modern India” by Rajiv Ahir, spectrum publication is kind of personal note with a very concise summary.
Still, you have to read Bipin Chandra for your betterment, if you have covered NCERTs syllabus of Social Science form class 6th to 10th then you can neglect Bipin Chandra.
Complete everything from 6th to 10th like social science and science. It will boost your basics of preparation.
Meanwhile, you don’t need to read physics and chemistry of 11th class but you can read last three chapters of chemistry and last four chapters of biology from 12th class as some direct questions also come from that part of the book.
India after Gandhi ( RC Guha) / India Science Independence( M Laxmikant)
Most of our History books ended with India’s Independence in 1947. But Ramchandra Guha put forward the story from there to modern India in which we have grown up.
This book will give you a better idea of how India has been changed science Independence and some noticeable events that have shaped today’s India.
Both the books are heavy in size and you only find two to three questions on this topic in the examination. Therefore be selective and only read the important topics.
Certificate Physical and Human Geography by GC Leong
This book will play a vital role in your preparation as it strengthens your theoretical background in geography.
Most importantly read this book for Physical part of geography i.e., Space, Natural calamities, Waves etc and Weather and climate of the world.
Majid Hussein- Indian Geography
It is the most organized book on geography than any book. This gives you the detailed notes about every concept.
Atlas: Oxford or Black Swan
Most people think that there is no need of reading and understanding an Atlas as it was for school students. But don’t put these evil thoughts into your mind cause, for understanding history and geography in details you need the help of Atlas and Maps.
Note: India and Its neighboring countries, Europe and North America
- Oxford Student Atlas for India, competitive Exam 2nd edition
- The Orient BlackSwan Atlas for Competitive Exam
Anyone is ok to understand the basics.
Indian Economy by Sanjiv Verma Or Ramesh Singh
When you compare both the books then you will find that Sanjiv Verma’s book is 30% of the Ramesh Singh’s. If you have too much time then you can go for the fatty one or else improvise with Sanjiv Verma.
Note: Important topics; Sustainability, Poverty, Development, Social sector initiatives, Demographics, Economic Inclusions etc.
The environment for Civil Services Prelims and Mains and Other Competitive Examinations By D. R. Khullar
This book offers a definite and concrete approach to various aspects of Environment provided in the Civil Service Examination.
You can also go for NCERTs Biology books (Environmental chapters) and Shankar IAS Notes.
Economic Survey ( Latest Edition)
This book is the authentic data source of Government. It presents the state of affairs of the Indian economy. This will help you in your essay writing, Prelims and also in an interview. Take an ample amount of time and read it thoroughly with the making of copious notes.
Unfortunately, there is no such specific book for Science and Technology so you can rely upon Science Reporter Monthly Magazine.
Other than these books you have to read some extra books for the Mains.
There are 9 papers in Mains out of which 4 are General Studies, 2 are optional, 1 is essay and the other two are English and Language (Approved by Constitution)
Above books are not only used for IAS prelims, it can be also followed for Mains too. Along with these books, you have to follow below list of books for additional readings.
Additional Books to Follow for IAS Main Exam
I have added these additional books in my list of op 15 Books for IAS preparation to add benefit for IAS main exam preparation.
Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania
Nitin Singhania’s book is mostly the rehashed version of his handwritten notes.
That does not take away the usefulness of the book as far as a concise source is concerned. It is sufficient for Prelims and useful for Mains but since nowadays the CS Mains questions of Culture cover a wide range of topics and their interconnections, the book is certainly not the only source you should rely on.
Neither should it be your only book of reference if you are aiming for Mains.
The best way forward is to use Nitin Singhania’s book/notes along with Ancient and Medieval India NCERT (Old) and NIOS book to explore the topics further and prepare your own notes.
Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe
After reading this book you would realize that this is not a history book, rather it’s a book that analyses the history. This book has beautifully summarized the events happened in the past century.
Disaster Management by IGNOU Notes
It is comprehensive and covers most of the required fields if you read with ARC on the same topic. As it is freely available you can grasp as many benefits as you can.
Challenges to Internal Security of India by Ashok Kumar
This book is aimed to provide a wide perspective on the issues and challenges regarding the topic ‘Internal Security and Disaster Management’, it’s written in a coherent manner for complete coverage of GS3 paper of UPSC.
For Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude you can follow Lexicon Book or G. Subba Rao For Essay Writing
For writing an impactful essay you need to practice some topics beforehand like Social issues, Pollution, Women Empowerment, energy-related issues, Digital India, 4th Industrial; revolution etc.
Well, that is it. You should not miss out these above-mentioned books once you start your preparation.
When you understand each book word by word (without neglecting newspapers especially The Hindu and Yojna magazine, of course!), you would be on your way to mains, interviews and beyond!
Hope my top 15 Books for IAS preparation will help you to achieve your dream goal.