Are you confused about what books you should start your UPSC Preparation with? Are you getting a different booklist everywhere you look? Below is a comprehensive list of all the General Studies books you will need to study for the Prelims and Mains examinations of UPSC. We have categorized them by tests and topics.

UPSC General Studies Books for Prelims

Books on Indian History & Culture

Indian History – India’s Struggle for Independence – NCERT Books ( XI & XII ) 
: Prelims & Mains | Author: Bipin Chandra | Publication: Orient Blackswan, 2009

This book traces the timeline of the British Rule in India between the eighteenth and the nineteenth century constituting a major part of Modern History of India. This book focuses more on the sociological factors that made the British Rule possible rather than on the historical and political narratives.

India’s Ancient Past – (Ancient India)

Exam: Mains | Author: R.S. Sharma | Publication: Oxford University Press, 2005

This is a comprehensive book that captures the history starting from neolithic and chalcolithic times to Harappan civilization, Vedic times, rise of Mauryas, Gupta’s. Satvahanas right up to the times of Harshavardhana. The ancient social milieu, the existing varna system, developments in science and technology, commerce and trade and the cultural legacy that shaped society are all treated in the context of the rise and fall of empires.

Also Read: 5 Non-Fiction Books You Must Read Before You Even Think of UPSC

History Of Medieval India – (Medieval India)

Exam: Mains | Author: Satish Chandra | Publication: Orient BlackSwan, 2007

A history of India between the eighth and the eighteenth century spanning across 1000 years is captured in this book. Detailing the events and the empires that shaped India and what makes India what it is today, this book is a detailed and easy read of the medieval history of India.

Books on Geography

Geography – NCERT Books and Certificate Physical and Human Geography.

Exam: Prelims & Mains | Author: Goh Cheng Leong | Publication: Oxford University Press, 1995

Whether it is climate change, types of natural vegetation, mountain chains, desserts, climatic patterns, glaciers, minerals or other natural phenomenon, Certificate Physical and Human Geography is the best book to learn from. All elementary topics of physical and human geography have been covered in this book in an easy language with lots of maps and illustrations.

Oxford School Atlas: India’s Most Trusted Atlas

Exam: Mains | Publication: Oxford University Press, 2016

With accurate and detailed maps, charts and diagrams, it is easy for students to learn the locations of countries, mountains, reserves and mineral reserves with the help of the Oxford School Atlas: India’s Most Trusted Atlas.

Books on Indian Polity

Indian Polity – Indian Polity

Exam: Prelims & Mains | Author: M Laxmikanth | Publication: Resonance, 2019

This is the most popular and comprehensive book on Indian Polity especially for UPSC Exams. This is not available in an accessible epub version that lets students access it through their mobile anytime anywhere.

Introduction to the Constitution of India

Exam: Mains | Author: D. D. Basu (Constitution) | Publication: Lexis Nexis, 2018

This book is a pioneering work on the origin and development of the Constitution of India. It is extensively used for LL.B., LL.M., B.A. and M.A. (Political Science) courses as well as for preparing for competitive examinations held by the Union and State Public Service Commissions.

Books on Economics

Indian Economy – NCERT Books and Indian Economy

Exam: Prelims & Mains | Author: Ramesh Singh | Publication: McGraw Hill Education, 2018

This book covers all aspects of the syllabus for both prelims and mains for UPSC and has sold 1 million copies in the last 10 years. Ramesh Singh is a subject expert and renowned teacher who has done an extensive coverage of all aspects of the Indian Economy along with the modern concerns plaguing it.

Economic Development & Policies in India

Exam: Mains | Author: Jain & Ohri | Publication: VK Global Publications Private Limited, 2019

Concentrating on both the historical and social development of the Indian Economy through the years after independence, this book is a comprehensive guide to understanding the Indian Economy in depth.

Books on General Science

General Science – NCERT textbooks

Books on Quantitative Aptitude

Mental Ability – Quantitative Aptitude

Exam: Prelims | Author: Dr. R.S. Aggarwal | Publication: S. Chand

Current Affairs

Magazines: 5 Best Magazines for UPSC IAS Preparation and

1. The Hindu: This is one of the most read and recommended newspapers to prepare for UPSC. Aspirants swear by its editorials and well as its articles and in depth coverage.
2. Indian Express: This is another highly read and recommended newspaper for UPSC preparation. Aspirants read it along with The Hindu especially for preparing for the Mains and Interview round.
3.Yojana Magazine,
4. PIB Website

Books on Art and Culture

The Wonder That Was India

Exam: Mains | Author: A.L. Bhasham | Publication: Picador; Indian edition, 2004

This book covers Indian history that includes culture, religion, governance, social evolution, tradition, languages, philosophy and science, and spans across the advent of the Harappa civilization and settlement to Aryan invasion theory. It traces the rich cultural history of India by tracing various time periods and eras of Indian history in a simple to understand language and using an engaging narrative.

Facets of Indian Culture

Exam: Mains | Author: Vidya, R. Rajaram, Kalpana | Publication: Spectrum, 2014

Along with solved and unsolved questions from UPSC and similar examinations, this book comprises of chapters on religion and philosophy, music, dance, theater and cinema, art and architecture and language and literature. It is one of the most comprehensive books on the subject.

Books on International Relations

International Relations

Exam: Mains | Author: Pavneet Singh | Publication: McGraw Hill Education, 2017

This book covers the complete prelims and mains syllabus of UPSC Exam for International Relations and Political Science. It covers world politics, foreign policy and international relations entirely and is supplemented with a number of case studies and mnemonics to aid comprehension and recall.

Pax Indica

Exam: Mains | Author: Shashi Tharoor | Publication: Penguin India, 2013

Shashi Tharoor narrates the importance of India’s role in the world stage in the backdrop of Indian Foreign Policy. This book gives a very good coverage of India’s foreign policy and its evolution since independence. This book also explains why foreign policy is important even for domestic transformation and at the absolute ground level of policy building.

Books on CSAT

Tata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual

Exam: Mains | Publication: Tata McGraw Hill

This is one of the most popular and extensive books to practice and solve questions for CSAT for UPSC

CSAT II – Arihant

Exam: Mains | Publication: Arihant, 2018

This is another very popular books to practice and solve questions for CSAT for UPSC

About the Author

Payal Ghosh

Payal is an FRM and an XLRI Jamshedpur alumnus interested in things as diverse as Waste Management and photography. She has over 16 years of work experience and is passionate about writing, teaching and sustainable living. Helping students and seeing them succeed makes gives her motivation to push herself further.

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