Best General Studies Booklist for UPSC IAS Exam

Most Important & Recommended General Studies Booklist for UPSC IAS Exam Preparation try to Follow this and Analyze your growth. 

The Recommended booklist for UPSC General Studies may vary in accordance with the previous knowledge and expertise of aspirants. We have compiled an exhaustive booklist that both fresher candidates and experienced ones can refer for their IAS exam preparation.

Students are often overwhelmed when faced with the extensive syllabus of the Civil Service Mains examination. They don’t know what to read, where to read and how much to read. Therefore, they end up having a very exhaustive reading of some units and superficial reading of the rest but this approach will not work. 

  • What are the best General Studies books for UPSC exam preparation? How many books are enough for civil service preparation? These are some questions that resonate with almost all the candidates especially when it comes to the UPSC book list. 
  • Students may purchase every book that is present in the book store without the right guidance but they need to shortlist and get only the right ones. When you read those books, you may have thoughts like there is very little time compared to too many books and make you feel worried.
  • We have come up with an exhaustive General Studies book list for the IAS exam that is recommended by toppers to make you worry a little less and have a little more time for study.
  • You should follow this specific general studies book list to ensure you are not deviating too much from the core syllabus.
  • The Recommended booklist for UPSC may vary in accordance with the previous knowledge and expertise of aspirants. We have compiled an exhaustive book list that both fresh candidates and experienced ones can refer to for their IAS exam preparation.
  • Before choosing the book, it is important to know the syllabus and exam pattern. Some of the books may be relevant for Prelims as well as Mains.
  • There are 9 papers in the Main examination according to the current pattern. Four of them are compulsory General Studies papers, one optional subject comprising two papers and essay papers and the language and English paper as well.

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Check out the book list given below to refer to while studying for IAS exam preparation.

Booklist for Prelims Examination

General Studies Paper I

  1. NCERT book History, Geography, Polity ( class 8th and 12th)
  2. India’s struggle for independence- Bipan Chandra 
  3. Indian Polity- M Laxmikant 
  4. Certificate of Physical Geography-G.C Leong 
  5. Indian Economy-Ramesh Singh
  6. International Relation- NCERT book (class 11th and 12th)
  7. Indian culture-Spectrum 
  8. Oxford World Atlas
  9. Current affairs magazine by Youth Destination 
  10. The Hindu newspaper 
  11. Indian Express newspaper 
  12. Yojana magazine 
  13. Kurukshetra magazine.
  14. NIOS study material

CSAT paper

  1. Verbal and nonverbal reasoning- RS Aggarwal
  2. Quicker Math- M Tyra
  3. English grammar and composition- Wren Martin

Book List for UPSC mains Exam

General Studies Paper 1

  • Ancient India- RS Sharma 
  • India’s struggle for independence- Bipan Chandra 
  • India after independence-Bipan Chandra 
  • Modern History- Bipan Chandra
  • Ancient History- Satish Chandra
  • The Story of Civilization, Part 2 by Arjun Dev
  • Mastering Modern World History- Norman Lowe
  • Ancient History- RS Sharma
  • History of Medieval India- Satish Chandra 
  • History by RBD Publication
  • Introduction to Indian Art 
  • (NCERT class 11th)
  • Art & Culture- Nitin Singhania
  • Geography of India- Majid Hussain
  • Indian Geography by D. R. Khullar
  • World geography- Majid Hussain 
  • Oxford Atlas 
  • NCERT Books of Geography 
  • (class 11th and 12th) 
  • Central physical and Human Geography- GC Leong
  • Geography by RBD Publication

General Studies Paper 2

  • Constitution of India – DD Basu
  • Indian Polity – M Laxmikant 
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Laxmikant
  • Polity by RBD Publication
  • India’s Foreign Policy – Rajiv Sikri

General Studies Paper 3

  • Indian Economy- Ramesh Singh
  • Indian Economy- Sanjiv Verma (
  • For Economics – Lal & Lal
  • A chapter on Climate Change from Economic Survey

General Studies Paper 4

  • Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude- Subbarao and PN Rao Chaudhary

NCERT book list for IAS exam


  • Our Past- Class 6th 
  • Our past I- Class 7th 
  • Our past II and III- Class 8th 
  • India and the contemporary world I- Class 9th 
  • India and the Contemporary world II- Class 10th
  • Themes in World History- Class 11th
  • Themes in Indian History- Class 12th
  • Themes in Indian History II- Class 12th
  • Themes in Indian history III- Class 12th

Art and culture

  • An introduction to Indian art- Class 11th
  • Living craft traditions of India- Class 11th


  • The Earth Our habitat- Class 6th 
  • Our environment- Class  7th 
  • Resource and Development- Class 8th Contemporary India- Class 9th Contemporary India II- Class 9th 
  • India Physical Environment- Class 11th
  • Fundamentals of Physical Geography- Class 11th 
  • Fundamentals of Human Geography- Class 11th
  • India People and Economy- Class 12th


  • Political Science: Democratic Politics part- I – (Class 9th)
  • Political Science: Democratic Politics part- II  – (Class 10th)
  • Political Science: Indian Constitution at Work – (Class 11th)
  • Political Science: Political Theory – (Class 11th)
  • Political Science I: Contemporary World Politics – (Class 12th)
  • Political Science II: Politics in India since Independence – (Class 12th)


  • Economics- Class 9th Understanding Economic Development – Class 10th 
  • Indian Economic Development – Class 11th 
  • Introductory Microeconomics – Class 12th 
  • Introductory Macroeconomics – Class 12th

Environment and Ecology

Biology – Class 12th

Security Issues

  • India’s security in a Turbulent World – Jasjit Singh
  • ‘The Hindu’ Newspaper
  • ‘Indian Express’ Newspaper

Science and Technology

  • ‘The Hindu’ Newspaper 
  • ‘Indian Express’ Newspaper 
  • NCERT books on biology- Class 8th, 9th, 10th 
  • Science Reporter for Science and Technology

Ethics and dignity aptitude integrity aptitude

  • ARC Report 
  • Lexicon by Chronicle publications 
  • Ethics in Governance
  • Ethics by Lexicon
  • Ethics by G. Subbarao.
  • The book on Ethics, Integrity & Aptitude published by RBD Publication

Current affairs book

  • Monthly current affair compilation by Youth Destination
  • Daily Current affairs update and MCQ by Youth Destination 
  • The Hindu newspaper 
  • Indian Express newspaper
  • Yojana Magazine 
  • Kurukshetra Magazine

How to study effectively for the IAS exam

  • It requires sufficient reading for writing descriptive papers.
  • Candidates should try to approach this by focusing on the syllabus first.
  • Don’t be over-ambitious and not try to cover the entire syllabus but you must find out the core areas of the syllabus.
  • The best strategy would be to go into the previous year’s question papers and look out for the main areas where questions are frequently asked.
  • First, eliminate the 30% syllabus that generally remains out of focus and concentrate on the rest of the syllabus that is always in trend.
  • We have discussed what to read for UPSC. Now, let us understand how to read them.

How to read a newspaper

  • Spending too much time reading the newspaper is not required. 
  • Reading the newspaper is a must but focus on the area of interest for the exam. 
  • Read from the exam’s point of view and avoid unnecessary news.
  • select a standard newspaper like The Hindu and read it every day.

How to read books

  • The first thing is to find the study material for the per unit of the syllabus that remains in focus.
  • Reading too many books for a single topic can make you confused. So, it is wise to do selective reading.
  • First, pick up the books from the list mentioned above as per the content of the unit.
  • It is good to refer to one standard book for each subject and develop a deep understanding of the subject first.
  • After this, you can make notes of that content from a specialized book offered by the coaching institute. 
  • You will have to spend a considerable amount of time and energy on the selective study material for reading purposes.
  • Always choose the best available study material as well as be selective to maintain uniformity in coverage of the syllabus.
  • Meaningful reading is the key factor that should be remembered while studying for the Civil Service exam. 
  • This does mean reading with a certain focus on the given topic and aiming at preparing the possible questions from the topic.
  • The best way to cover the syllabus is to concentrate on the syllabus topic and be selective in the study material.
  • Keep in mind that you don’t have to research the topic but have to read writing answers to probable questions so note down important and relevant points which can be used to write answers in a logical framework.
  • It is good to go through the question asked in the previous year on the given topic before starting any new topic. 
  • It will give you a clear idea about the kind of study material you need to be studied and to write the correct answers to the questions.
  • Try to read logically and correlate all the points. Once you develop this approach to reading you will be able to construct a probable answer to the question by elaborating the important points.
  • This kind of reading will help you in making notes that you can revise periodically.
  • This approach not only helps you retain the salient points of the topic in your memory but also improves your grip over the topic and makes you more confident about the preparation and ultimately it reflects on your performance of writing a good answer in the Mains exam.

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