Best Books For UPSC Exam | Books For UPSC Prelims And Mains

If you are a student seeking for high profile government jobs, then you must have heard about the UPSC examination or say CSE (civil service examination), which is conducted every year to appoint IAS, IPS and some other high post officers all over India.

A very large number of students prepare for the UPSC every year, so that they can acquire some of the highest and most respected posts like the IAS or IPS. 

But the UPSC is also known as the toughest exam of India, therefore clearing it will definitely take a ton of hard work and focus on study.

One other very important thing for UPSC preparation is to choose the right books to study.

Many UPSC aspirants often search for the best books for UPSC preparation.

Those students who top the UPSC exam, recommend some of the best books for UPSC preparation.

Here in this article, we will know the name of the best books of each and every topic or subject which comes under UPSC. These are the books which are generally recommended by the toppers.

Best Books For UPSC Exam

Best Books For UPSC Preparation

Before we talk about the best books for UPSC, let’s know the UPSC exam process in brief.

There are a total of three stages in UPSC, the first one is UPSC prelims then there is UPSC mains and then the last one is the interview.

The pre and mains are the written exams, and the interview is in person interaction with senior civil service officers.

Also, the syllabus of UPSC is very vast, and it includes topics from various subjects such as history, geography, polity, science and technology, environmental science, then languages and some more. So it is important for the students to select the best book of every subject.

So, here we will know about the best books for UPSC according to the three different stages of the UPSC exam which are prelims, mains and then interview.

Best Books For UPSC Prelims

1. Indian polity for civil services examinations – by M. laxmikanth

This is one of the best and most recommended books by the toppers of UPSC.

This book doesn’t require an introduction, this is one of those books which can entirely change someone’s vision about the world.

This is very helpful for many competitive exams along with UPSC.

2. Indian art and culture (for culture) – by Nitin Singhania

This is one of the best books for the study of Indian culture and its legacy, which is an important part in UPSC.

You will find many important questions from art and culture in this book which will help you in your preparation.

3. Certificate physical and human geography (for geography) – by Goh Cheng leong

Geography is an important part of UPSC, and this book is one of the best selling and recommended books by toppers.

The geography syllabus included in this book helps a lot for UPSC prelims preparation.

4. 6-12 NCERT books

Anyone who has qualified the UPSC exam, recommends NCERT books of class 6th to 12th of almost every subject.

As there is very good coverage of basics in the NCERT’s, and these are very very helpful for prelims as well as mains.

5. Economy survey (for economy) -by ministry of India

Aspirants need to have the right data and information regarding the economy of the country and some other related things.

And the most trustable source is the data provided by the finance ministry of India.

6. Indian economy (for economy) by Ramesh Singh

Another important book for the economy is this book by Ramesh Singh.

The book contains the whole comprehensive text of the economy, and it includes every subject or topic of economy with details.

7. Oxford school atlas (for geography) by Oxford publishers

Geographical maps are also very important for UPSC. And The Oxford school atlas is one of the best books for it. You will find more than 200 maps in this book.

8. India year book

This is a very good reference book for current affairs, you can cover a major portion of your current affairs section with this book.

9. Brief history of modern India (for history) – by Rajiv Ahir

Also one of the most recommended books by toppers, for history. This book mainly covers the rise of East India company and the fall of the Mughal Empire in India.

Here you will find the changes in India after the arrival of EIC.

10. The Hindu, PIB, other important websites/applications – for current affairs

The Hindu newspaper, PIB and some other websites are the best sources for current affairs. As these are published daily with the latest and important news.

Notes by some recognised IAS institutes, daily news paper and websites (like ISRO)

11. Environment and Technology

The daily newspaper and the monthly magazines could be good for studying environment and Technology as news and latest articles related to this topic are published on a daily basis in the newspaper and magazines.

Best Books For UPSC Mains

The UPSC mains is actually more tough. Some of the above mentioned books can also be useful for UPSC mains.

And the newspaper and the monthly magazines will be the same for current affairs and news.

There are a total of 9 papers in UPSC mains, including two language papers, 1 essay paper, 4 general studies papers and 2 optional subjects.

The general studies papers are the most important ones. Best books for GS papers are

1. GS paper 1

Indian Heritage and culture-

  • Indian and art culture by Nitin Singhania
  • The wonder that India Was

2. Indian and world history-

  • India’s ancient past by RS Sharma
  • History of modern India by Bipin Chandra
  • India’s struggle for independence by Bipin Chandra

3. Geography of world and society-

  • Geography of India by Majid Husain
  • Oxford school atlas
  • Certificate physical and human geography (for geography) – by Goh Cheng leong

4. GS paper 2

  • Governance in India by Laxmikant
  • India year book
  • Contemporary world politics (NCERT)
  • Indian constitution at work (NCERT)
  • Indian polity by Laxmikant
  • Introduction to the constitution of India by DD Basu

5. GS paper 3

  • Science and technology in India TMH
  • Economic survey
  • India year book
  • The environment for civil services prelims and mains
  • Indian economy by uma kapila
  • ARC report on Disaster management 

6. GS paper 4

  • Lexicon for ethics, integrity and aptitude (ethics GS 4)
  • IAS mains studies ethics (Arihant manual GS 4)

7. For essay paper

  • Selected Contemporary Essays Paperback – by Saumitra Mohan 
  • 151 Essays – by Disha Experts 

And then there are language papers one of which will be English and the other one can be any other major language of India.

You can study any book you find suitable and best for your language. 

And the last two papers are optional, meaning the candidates can choose whatever subjects they are good at.

So the books will also vary according to the chosen subject.

There are also books available for preparation of UPSC interview.

But the interview is more about the representation of your personality and your communication skills, so these become more important for the interview. 

Other than these, some books like previous year question papers and solved answers for UPSC prelims and mains will also be of great help for the preparation.


In the article above we have discussed some of  the best books for UPSC preparation.

Selection of the right books for every subject is important when we talk about UPSC.

There are many options in the market for every subject but some of them are most useful and hence toppers often recommend these.

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