Best books for IAS Prelims and Mains Preparation

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One of the most important questions bothering every IAS aspirant is what to read for IAS and What are the best books for IAS prelims or mains.

If you are visiting here after seeing thousands of suggestions for IAS books suggestions on different websites and forums, I understand!

Anyway! We have done a good research to collect some of the important books for IAS exam preparation.

This list is compiled after researching on quora about the recommended books for IAS (UPSC) exam, other websites and after considering the recommendations from IAS toppers. So you can be pretty sure about whether you are following the right books and what books will be truly worth to follow for your exam. Also, if you are someone who has already cleared the IAS exam in past I urge you to add more valuable book suggestion in the comment section below.

Introduction – Best Preparation Books for IAS

Before discussing the good books for IAS examination it is worth discussing the type of books you should read if you are preparing for UPSC civil services.

The IAS gurus suggest reading syllabus books like Indian politics, Geography, Aptitude books and general studies from NCERTs first for your prelims and mains exam.

Other than that, it’s also strongly recommended to increase your interest in reading books first if you want to gain the knowledge. For that reason, you should also consider reading interesting history, fiction, and non-fiction books as well.

So now we can categorize your whole IAS readings into two subparts where one is your essential reading and another one is your secondary reading.

Primary Reading

This is the essential reading list to qualify and get good rank in your IAS exams so this is not to avoid. It contains the books from your syllabus for both the exams and contains topics like Indian History, Politics, Aptitude and so on.

Secondary Reading

It can be seen as a bonus list since most of the people will simply avoid to read it. But remember, you don’t only have written exams to qualify but also a very strong interview round as well.

Also, you have to have a very strong grasp of the English language as well. So reading some of these books will surely lead you ahead.

The last thing to discuss before actually listing the recommended IAS preparation books is to share the complete syllabus for your exams. It will help you to pick the reading suggestions below.

Detailed Syllabus of IAS Exam

Prelims Exam syllabus

UPSC Prelims Syllabus for Paper I
  • Current events of national and international importance.
  • Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
  • Economic and Social Development Sustainable Development, Poverty, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc.
  • History of India and Indian National Movement.
  • Indian and World Geography – Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
  • General Science.
  • Environmental Ecology and Biodiversity
UPSC Prelims Syllabus for Paper II
  • Comprehension.
  • General mental ability.
  • Basic numeracy: numbers and their relations, orders of magnitude, etc.
  • Interpersonal skills including communication skills.
  • Logical reasoning and analytical ability.
  • Decision-making and problem-solving.
  • Data interpretation: charts, graphs, tables, data sufficiency etc

Now, since you have revisited all the syllabus and prepared your mind. Let’s start from the primary reading list for IAS.

This list is made after considering the usefulness of the books for both prelims and mains exam. Since it is always better to keep your reading list short and sharp.

Highly Recommended and Important Books for IAS

most important books for ias


A book ten times is better than ten books for one time

Primary Reading list for IAS Prelims and Mains exams

    • Indian polity by Laxmikanth

    • Geography of India by Majid Husain book

    • Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh book

    • General Studies Based on NCERT Syllabus for IAS

    • Indian and World Geography for Civil Services

    • Current Affairs Mega Yearbook from Disha

    • Quantitative Aptitude for Competitive Examinations

    • India after Gandhi

We have also reviewed some of the Collection of best UPSC preparation books. Some of the important IAS books for general studies preparation and other subjects are reviewed here. Otherwise, you are free to click on these books to visit amazon pages to read more reviews and buy them for the cheapest available price.


Secondary Reading list [Optional]

Following secondary reading list is all up to you but I suggest you to having a look.

IAS is one of the toughest exams in India. The success ratio is less than 1% in IAS exams. As I have previously said, these books will help you to keep yourself motivated to study, improve your intrapersonal, communicational and writing skills and help you to grow as a better person.

    • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

how to win book

    • The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho

the alchemist book

    • The Life of Pi by Yann Martel

 life of pie book

  • The Stranger by Albert Camus

 the stranger book

    • Diary of a young girl by Anne Frank

All these books will literally generate your interest in English literature, enhance your personality and help you to face the toughest exams of your life.

We have separately listed out all good books which can help you to improve your English writing in this post. You are not out from the race even if you don’t speak proper English as it’s just the matter of practice.

Final Words

There are more than 1 million students who apply for the UPSC exam every year. nearly half of them appear for the exam. Since it’s still a huge number the competition is really, really high.

This was our list of all important books for IAS prelims and mains exams. In an another post we have discussed more study materials, NCERT book download links and preparation tips for IAS in details.

Remember this is only the list of books. You must also read good newspapers, other exam books to perform best in your exams.


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