Best Books for UPSC IAS 2020 - All UPSC aspirants who wish to qualify the Civil Service examination must choose the best books to prepare for UPSC IAS. Becoming an IAS is a dream job and 10 lakh plus students are in competition to crack this exam. This requires a strong planning backed with best books for UPSC IAS 2020. Since UPSC Civil Services examination is one of the toughest exams in the country, you must have the best knowledge to surpass your competitors. In this article, we provide you with a list of UPSC IAS best books recommended by IAS toppers to qualify UPSC prelims and mains examination. It is crucial that the candidates do not get confused with plethora of UPSC IAS books available on the internet and shops and select only the best books for UPSC IAS preparation. It is advisable to stick to the best books to prepare for UPSC IAS that contains most of the knowledge you require to crack UPSC IAS exam and repeatedly revise these books.
Latest: UPSC IAS Application Form 2020 is available now.

Best Books for UPSC IAS 2020

UPSC IAS preparation is as much about smart work as it is about hard work. The UPSC IAS syllabus is vast and candidates take at least one year to comprehensively cover it. UPSC IAS 2020 Prelims is scheduled to take place on May 31, 2020. You cannot waste your precious time by referring to books that are below standard or contains irrelevant, incorrect and unauthenticated information. Also, people have a limited amount of memory and it is not possible to remember everything you read. The smart candidates know which are the best books to prepare for UPSC IAS.

UPSC IAS 2020 Best Books - Highlights

  1. Read newspaper everyday

  2. Revise your notes and best books for UPSC IAS repeatedly to memorize everything you study

  3. While most standard books are used for preparation of both Prelims and Mains exam, some UPSC IAS best books can be divided into those required mainly for Prelims exam and those for Mains exam.

UPSC IAS Selection Process 2020

The UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE) comprises of 3 stages:

  1. Preliminary Exam – 2 MCQ-based objective type papers

  2. UPSC Mains – 9 descriptive type papers

  3. UPSC IAS Interview/Personality Test

Check UPSC IAS eligibility 2020 for Prelims to make sure that you are eligible for giving the examination.

Click on this link to read and download the UPSC IAS Syllabus 2020 for the upcoming civil services examination.

Click on the link below for downloading the list of best UPSC IAS books for quick reference.

UPSC IAS 2020 Best Books - How to begin UPSC IAS preparation

As a beginner, it is recommended by IAS toppers to start with NCERT books and then move towards standard reference books. Along with this, the candidates must make it a habit to read the newspaper every day and keep making notes of important things they find in it.

Best Books for UPSC IAS - NCERT Books

Main Subject



Social Science

Geography, Polity, History, Economics

Class VI to XII


Class XI and XII


Class VI to X

(for non-Science students)


Class XII (last 5 chapters)

UPSC Best Books For IAS 2020 Prelims

The UPSC Prelims exam is an objective MCQ based exam. It consists of 2 papers:

  1. General Studies Paper - I

  2. General Studies Paper-II /Civil Services Aptitude Test (CSAT)

Here is a subject-wise list of best books for UPSC IAS prelims recommended by experts:


UPSC Books



  1. NCERT XI (Ancient & Medieval)

  2. NCERT XII (Modern Indian History)

  3. Facets of Indian Culture – Spectrum

  4. From Plassey to Partition - A History of Modern India

  5. India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra

For Prelims, the first 4 books should be sufficient. For Mains, you should read India’s Struggle for Independence – Bipan Chandra, but it is better if one can finish it before Prelims because there isn’t much time left after Prelims to prepare for Mains.

Indian Art & Culture

Indian Art & Culture - Nitin Singhania

This book can be used for both Prelims and Mains



  2. Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth

For prelims you don’t need to read any other book on Polity except Indian Polity – M Laxmikanth. Many questions asked in the Prelims paper seem to have come directly from this book. However, for Mains, you should read D D Basu as it helps you to form opinions you may need to answer some difficult questions in the exam


  1. NCERT VI – X (Old Syllabus)

  2. NCERT XI, XII (New Syllabus)

  3. Certificate Physical Geography – G C Leong

  4. World Atlas

Read NCERTs thoroughly.



  2. The Indian Economy – Sanjiv Verma

  3. Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh

  4. Economic Development & Policies in India – Jain & Ohri

The Indian Economy –Sanjiv Verma is very good for beginners and for those who find economics distasteful and difficult. It explains concepts in very simple language. The book by Ramesh Singh should be read after the book by Sanjiv Verma.


  1. Class XII Biology (last 5 chapters)

  2. Environment by Shankar IAS Academy
  3. Environment & Ecology: Biodiversity, Climate Change and Disaster Management - General Studies for Civil Services (Main) Examination - Paper II and IV - Majid Hussain

Last 5 chapters of the Class XII Biology book are based on Environment.
Nowadays, in UPSC Prelims, questions on environment are not only related to concepts but also from the current issues related to the environment.

International Relations

  1. NCERT XII (Contemporary World Politics)

  2. Current Affairs

International relations keep changing and you must read newspaper to keep yourself updated on the latest developments in the world.

UPSC Best Books For IAS Prelims - Paper 2 - CSAT

CSAT or Civil Services Aptitude Test was introduced in 2011 to test the aptitude, analytical skills and reasoning ability of UPSC IAS candidates.

CSAT is officially known as General Studies Paper 2.

Click here to know more about the UPSC IAS Exam Pattern.

The candidates need to score only 33.33% to qualify this paper. There is no need for any special books for Paper- II but you must practice 10th level Maths and English questions on grammar and reading comprehension. This is especially required for beginners like students from Commerce/Arts background.

The books recommended by IAS toppers for GS Paper - II - CSAT include:

  1. Tata McGraw Hill CSAT Manual

  2. CSAT II – Arihant

  3. Verbal & Non-Verbal Reasoning – R S Aggarwal

  4. Cracking the CSAT Civil Services Aptitude Test with Solved Papers

  5. The Pearson CSAT Manual

UPSC IAS 2020 Best Books - Other books and study material

Apart from the standard subject-wise books mentioned above, there are some other important books and study material that should be referred for completing your UPSC IAS preparation.

These are:

  1. India Year Book - Publication Division, Govt. of India

  2. Economic Survey (latest)

  3. Budget (latest)

UPSC IAS 2020 Best Books - Current Affairs

  1. Newspaper - Hindu/Indian Express (this should be read every day)

  2. Press Information Bureau

UPSC IAS Best Books - Magazines

  1. Yojana

  2. Kurukshetra

  3. Economic and Political Weekly

  4. Down to Earth

  5. Frontline

  6. The Economist

Best Books for UPSC IAS 2020 - Question Banks

  1. Indian Polity Question Bank – TMH

  2. General Science Question Bank – TMH

  3. Geography (India+World) Question Bank – TMH

  4. Social & Economic Development Question Bank – TMH

  5. 1000 Plus Questions on Indian Polity: General Studies for Civil Services Preliminary Examination (Paper – 1)

  6. 14000+ MCQs For Paper-I Prelims

UPSC Books – Best Books For UPSC IAS Mains

Candidates who clear the UPSC CSE Prelims are shortlisted for the Mains stage of the UPSC CSE Exam. In UPSC IAS 2020 Mains, there are 9 General Studies (GS) descriptive papers out of which 2 papers are of qualifying nature. These qualifying papers are General English and General Language. There are 4 General Studies papers, 1 Essay Paper and 2 optional subject papers.

UPSC IAS Mains Exam 2020


Name of the Paper



General English



General Language



Essay Paper



General Studies I



General Studies II



General Studies III



General Studies IV



Optional Subject Paper I



Optional Subject Paper I




Given below are the Best Books for UPSC IAS 2020 Mains:


UPSC Books

History, Indian Heritage & Culture
[GS Paper 1]

  1. An Introduction to Indian Art Part 1: Textbook in Fine Arts for Class XI

  2. From Plassey To Partition And After by Sekhar Bandopadhyaya

  3. India’s Struggle for Independence by Bipan Chandra

  4. India after Independence by Bipan Chandra

  5. History of Modern India by Bipin Chandra

  6. History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra

  7. India’s Ancient Past by R.S Sharma

  8. Contemporary World History for class XII (Old NCERT Book)

  9. Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe

[GS Paper 1]

  1. NCERT Class 11 - Fundamentals of Physical Geography

  2. NCERT Class 12 - Fundamentals of Human Geography

  3. Certificate Physical and Human Geography – G C Leong

  4. World Atlas - Orient Black Swan

Other reference books -

  1. Indian Geography by D. R. Khullar

  2. World Geography by Majid Husain

  3. Geography of India by Majid Husain

[GS Paper 2]

  1. Indian Polity by M. Laxmikanth

  2. Introduction to the Constitution of India by DD Basu

  3. From Government to Governance by Kuldeep Mathur

  4. Ethics in Governance, ARC Report (Citizen Centric Administration (Chapters 2, 5, 6, 7 & 8 only and box items in the report)

  5. Human Development Report & World Development Report

Social Justice
[GS Paper 2]

  1. XI Standard NCERT on Indian Society (Chapters on Unity & Diversity and Population Issues)

  2. XII Standard NCERT (Chapters on Communalism, Secularism and Urban Issues such as Poverty, Housing, etc.)

  3. The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper

  4. Human Development Report & World Development Report

International Relations
[GS Paper 2]

  1. India’s Foreign Policy Since Independence by V.P. Dutt Or

  2. India’s Foreign Policy by Rajiv Sikri

  3. The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper

[GS Paper 3]

  1. Indian Economic Development XI Standard NCERT

  2. Introductory Macroeconomics XII Standard NCERT (Ignore all diagrams & mathematical formulas)

  3. Indian Economy by Sanjiv Verma

  4. Indian Economy – Ramesh Singh

  5. Economic Survey (latest)

  6. The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper

Biodiversity, Environment
[GS Paper 3]

  1. XII Standard NCERT Book on Biology (Chapters pertaining to Ecology)

  2. India Year Book (Chapters on Environment)

  3. Chapter on Climate Change from Economic Survey

  4. The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper

Security and Disaster Management
[GS Paper 3]

  1. India’s Security in a Turbulent World by Jasjit Singh, published by National Book Trust of India

  2. The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper

Science & Technology
[GS Paper 3]

  1. VIII, IX, X Standard NCERT books on Biology

  2. The Hindu or Indian Express Newspaper

  3. Monthly Magazine ‘Science Reporter for Science & Technology’

Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude
[GS Paper 4]

  1. Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude for Civil Services Main Examination by Subba Rao and P.N. Roy Chaudary

  2. Ethics in Governance, ARC Report

  3. Lexicon by Chronicle Publications

In the UPSC CSE Mains exam, besides 4 General Studies papers, there are 2 Optional papers. Candidate has to choose one optional subject for this Optional Paper. The optional papers accounts for 500 marks in total and it plays an important role in deciding candidates’ ranking in UPSC CSE examination. Therefore, it is important that the right books are referred for it. The list of best books for UPSC IAS Mains for the optional subjects are given below:

Best Books for the UPSC IAS Mains - Geography

Geography is one of the popular optional subjects among UPSC IAS candidates. It has a high success rate and roughly 3000 to 4000 out of 16000 aspirants opt for Geography, thus, there is a high level of competition also. Geography is a scientific subject based on understanding of concepts and involves minimum rote-learning. Geography has exhaustive but a definite syllabus. Some topics overlap with GS Paper 1 and GS Paper 3. Here is the list of books for Geography:

Geography Books for UPSC Mains 2020

Paper - I

Paper - II


  2. Made Simple Series by Rupa Publication-Vol-I & II

  3. A certificate course in geography by Goh Cheng Leong

  4. Physical Geography - by Savindra Singh or Physical Geography - by Husain Majid

  5. Modern Physical Geography - by Strahler & Strahler

  1. India: A Comprehensive Geography by D.R. Khullar

  2. Regional Planning In India by Mahesh Chand

Other Books that can be referred:

  1. Evolution of Geographical Thought by Majid Husain

  2. Economic and Social Geography Made Simple by R. Knowles, J. Wareing

  3. Models in Geography by Majid Husain

  4. Oxford Student Atlas for India

Best Books for the UPSC IAS Mains 2020- Public Administration

Public administration is one of the most popular optional subjects opted for by students in UPSC IAS main examination. It is considered a scoring subject. Its significance lies in its interlinkage with administration and governance of the country. There is some overlap with the General Studies papers topics and hence students find it easier to study this subject. Here is the list of books for Public administration.

Public Administration Books for UPSC Mains:

  1. Indian Public Administration: Institutions and Issues by Arora and Goyal
  2. Public Administration in India by B L Fadia
  3. Public Administration in India 1st Edition by Maheshwari
  4. Administrative Thinkers by Prasad and Prasad

Other Books that can be referred:

  1. Public Administration by Laxmikant
  2. Public Administration by Prasad & Prasad
  3. Public Administration by Mohit Bhattacharya
  4. Public Administration and Public Affairs 12th Edition – Nicholas Henry

Books recommended by IAS Toppers - Sociology

Sociology is one of the easiest optional subjects. It is easy to understand and considered highly scoring. The syllabus deals with day-to-day life of society and a lot of questions can easily be attempted. Paper I of Sociology deals with the fundamentals of Sociology where Paper II of Sociology optional deals with the Indian society, its structure, and change. Here is the list of books for Sociology.

Sociology Books for UPSC Mains 2020:

Paper - I

Paper - II

  1. Sociology - Introductory Readings by Anthony Giddens

  2. Sociology: Themes and Perspectives by Haralambos and Heald
  3. Sociological Thought by M. Francis Abraham, John H. Morgan
  4. Introduction to Political Theory by O. P. Gauba

  1. Social Change in Modern India by Srinivas

  2. Modernization Of Indian Traditions by Yogendra Singh
  3. Handbook of Indian Sociology by Veena Das
  4. Indian Society and Culture: Continuity and Change by N. Hasnain
  5. Rural Sociology by Doshi and Jain
  6. Social Background of Indian Nationalism by A. R. Desai

Best Books for the UPSC IAS 2020 Mains - History

Many candidates opt for History as it is an easy subject telling the story about the past of India and the world around us. It requires the least amount of coaching. History is a general studies friendly subject. Here is the list of books for History.

History Books for UPSC Mains 2020:

List of Ancient Indian History Books For UPSC

  1. India's Ancient Past by R.S. Sharma
  2. Ancient India by Upinder Singh
  3. The Wonder That Was India by A.L. Basham

List of Medieval Indian History Books For UPSC

  1. Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas by Romila Thapar

  2. Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals-Delhi Sultanat (1206-1526) by Satish Chandra
  3. Medieval India: From Sultanat to the Mughals- Mughal Empire (1526-1748) - 2 by Satish Chandra

List Of Modern Indian History Books For UPSC

  1. From Plassey to Partition - A History of Modern India by Bandyopadhyay Sekhar

  2. History of Modern India by Bipan Chandra
  3. India's Struggle For Independence by Bipan Chandra and others
  4. Modern India (Macmillan) -Sumit Sarkar

List Of World history books For UPSC

  1. Mastering Modern World History - Norman Lowe

  2. History of the World by Arjun Dev

Best Books for the UPSC IAS Mains 2020 - Economics

Economics is also a popular optional paper generally opted by candidates who have a good understanding of concepts of economics. Also, there is a large overlap of the syllabus of General Studies for Prelims and Mains. The syllabus focuses on the candidates’ understanding of the basic concepts in economics and application of this knowledge to developmental challenges of the country. Here is the list of books for Economics.
Economics Books for UPSC Mains.

Paper I

Paper II

  1. Advanced Economic Theory by H.L. Ahuja
  2. Macro Economics: Theory and Policy by H.L.Ahuja
  3. Principles of Macroeconomics by N. Gregory Manklw
  4. International Economics: Trade and Finance by Dominick Salvatore
  5. Public Finance by H.L. Bhatia
  6. Money and Banking – Gupta and Ahuja

  7. Indian Economy by Mishra and Puri

  1. Indian Economy by Mishra and Puri

  2. Indian Economy by Dutt and Sundaram

  3. Indian Economy by Uma Kapila

Other References:

  1. Economic Survey, EPW, RBI

  2. Any one Business Newspaper – Economic Times or Financial Express or The Economist

Best Books for the UPSC IAS 2020 Mains - Political Science

About 50-60% of the syllabus of Political Science coordinates with the General Studies Paper topics of UPSC Mains. Considering the changes and revision in syllabus and nature of the topics dealt in the subject, it is considered a very dynamic and constantly evolving subject. Here is the list of books for Political Science. The Paper-I of UPSC Mains Political Science deals with the Political Theory and Indian Politics. Paper-II of UPSC Mains Political Science deals with Comparative Political Analysis and International Politics.

Political Science Books for UPSC Mains:

  1. A History of Political Thought: Plato to Marx by Mukherjee and Ramaswamy
  2. Introduction to Political Theory by O P Gauba
  3. Political Theory by Rajeev Bhargava
  4. Politics by Andrew Heywood
  5. Global Politics by Heywood
  6. International Relations by V N Khanna
  7. Foundations of Indian Political Thought: An Interpretation - from Manu to the Present Day by V. R. Mehta
  8. Introduction to the Constitution of India by D.D. Basu
  9. India's Struggle for Independence: 1857-1947 by Bipan Chandra
  10. Indian Government and Politics by BL Fadia

  11. Does the Elephant Dance?: Contemporary Indian Foreign Policy by David M. Malone

Best books for the UPSC IAS 2020 - Other References:

Apart from the standard books mentioned above, the essential UPSC Study material includes certain important newspapers, magazines and reports:

  1. Yojana

  2. Kurukshetra

  3. Geography and You

  4. NITI Aayog reports (especially related to Agriculture, Infrastructure, Regional development, Rural development etc)

  5. Niti Aayog Action Agenda

  6. Some UN documents on Population, development & Environment (eg UNDP)

  7. 2nd ARC Report

  8. Economic Survey (latest)

  9. Budget (latest)

  10. Finance Commission Report (latest)

  11. Annual reports by central ministries

  12. Current Affairs

    • The Hindu

    • Yojana Magazine

    • Press Information Bureau

Preparing for IAS does not mean reading every book available. A lot of good books are available that are more valuable for academics and research scholars, but not necessarily for the UPSC exam. IAS toppers would tell you that you need to remember everything you read. And it is not humanly possible to remember everything you read unless you keep revising it. And you can revise only a set number of books and notes. So, you need UPSC IAS best books that will help in your preparation and help you clear the IAS exam with good marks.

UPSC Application Form 2020

UPSC Civil Services Examination 2020 notification will be released on 12th February 2020. The last date for receipt of applications is March 03, 2020. The application form is expected to be online and will be released on the same day as notification. The application form for the examination will be available at the link given on the UPSC website and the candidates need to apply there itself. For registration, the candidates must have a valid email address and phone number. After successful registration, a candidate is redirected to the application form filling portal. A candidate has to upload a scanned copy of their signature and photograph in JPG format, both of which must not exceed 40KB in size.

UPSC Civil Services 2020 Admit Card

Commission releases UPSC IAS admit card in three stages- prelims, mains and interview. Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2020 will be held on May 31 in offline mode. The admit card of UPSC IAS prelims stage will be released by commission by March 28 2020 in online mode.

UPSC IAS Syllabus 2020

The UPSC Civil Services Examination (CSE) is considered one of the most prestigious and toughest examinations conducted in India. It has a vast syllabus and it takes at least one year to comprehensively cover this syllabus. Therefore, it is important not to waste your precious time in reading wasteful and unnecessary topics. UPSC Civil Services Examination 2020 syllabus will be released along with the official notification on 12th February 2020. The UPSC IAS syllabus can be found at the UPSC official website or you can click the heading to view the UPSC CSE syllabus.

UPSC IAS 2020 Exam Pattern

UPSC Civil Services Examination is conducted in three stages:

  1. Preliminary Exam – 2 MCQ-based objective type papers

  2. UPSC Mains – 9 descriptive type papers

  3. UPSC IAS Interview & Personality Test

UPSC IAS Result 2020

The results for UPSC IAS 2020 Prelims will be released within 45 days after the commencement of exam which will be held on May 31, 2020. The result of UPSC IAS Prelims will be released in PDF format which comprises the roll number of all successfull candidates.

How to Prepare for UPSC IAS

UPSC Civil Services Examination is considered the mother of all exams. It has a vast syllabus and the candidate can get easily confused and demotivated if not guided properly. It is important to have a meticulous plan for preparing various General Studies (GS) subjects to be complete and productive in your preparation. You must manage your time effectively and be disciplined in following the routine or time-table you set. To implement the correct strategy applicants should also know UPSC IAS cut off which will help them to sucessfully execute the plan. UPSC looks for well-informed candidates with analytical skills. The candidates must read the newspaper every day to keep updated with the latest developments around the country and the world. It is important to read and study NCERT books to build a solid foundation for your preparation in GS. Also, it is not humanly possible to remember everything you study. One must know what to read and what to skip. You must revise constantly to memorize your readings.

UPSC Civil Services Exam Updates and Articles

Questions related to UPSC Civil Services Exam

Showing 1146 out of 1146 Questions

can any ias officer become an actor?

chinmayi 30th Mar, 2020


An IAS Officer can become an actor if he is passionated to become an actor . But an IAS Officer does not have time to do his job and also go for acting . He also need to take a lot of permissions from higher authorities . An IAS officer don't get leaves for entertainment purpose . An IAS officer should abide to the rules of the Government and work serve for the Government . So as an IAS officer it is not that easy to become an actor .

Hope this helps you .


An IAS officer or isro employee which have more salary and power?

Rehan Alam Student Expert 28th Mar, 2020

Dear aspirant,

This is a very subjective question. Power is relative, with respect to others and within an organization. To give you an example, An IAS of some big district like Moradabad have more power than the IAS in some small backward district. But this does not belittle the profession of IAS.

Similarly, an ISRO engineer/scientist working on Chandrayaan will have more salary then the engineer who has just entered the organization and working on some existing common project.

Therefore, both of them are relative to the work you do, where you're at, your experience, etc.

Hope this helps. Thank you.


i want to be an ias with a backup plan what should I choose ba or bsc

chinmayi 28th Mar, 2020


All The Best as you have a dream to become an IAS  . I suggest you to take B.Sc as there is science stream in your class 11 and 12 . You have many opportunities as you can do M.Sc or PhD after doing B.Sc . You have an opportunity if you fail to achieve your dream of an IAS officer . If you don't get selected for IAS then you have a chance of becoming professor .

Dream to become an IAS but have an other option also in your career . You should work very hard to become an IAS . But concentrate on your degree as Degree is most crucial to become an IAS as without a degree you are not supposed to write the prelims exam .

Hope this helps you .


if agri is the correct graduation for IAS /

Papeya Dubey Student Expert 28th Mar, 2020

First of all,according to eligibility criteria for UPSC,candidates need to pass graduation in any discipline and attained 21 years age, you can appear even in your final year,there isn't any best course or correct course in this matter, the sole reason being UPSC doesn't discriminate among aspirants and hence allow people from all background to appear for this exam. As per previous year trends also,people from different backgrounds like engineering, medical etc too have succeeded, what eventually matters is planning and strategy in this exam.

what are the groups in intermediate which is best for ias?

Megha 28th Mar, 2020

Hello Aspirant !

I will suggest you to first choose wisely your undergraduate and start preparing from starting itself.

Then , choose your subjects according to your preparation and interest that what subject you will take as an optional subject in your exams

Many people go for subjects in ART stream like bachelor of art with subject like geography , history , political science etc according to your interest .

Also , you can try for humanities.

Hope it helps , if you have further query please feel free to ask !

The question have been saved in answer later, you can access it from your profile anytime. Access now

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