UPSC Civil Services: Subject-wise book list for preparation

Current affairs form a major part of the UPSC Civil Services question paper, therefore, apart from the static syllabus, candidates should regularly follow the news events. 

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the Civil Services exam every year to recruit Group A and B officers in the central government. Around 10 lakh candidates apply for the 700-800 vacancies every year making the success rate as low as 0.075 per cent. 

Therefore, to qualify for this exam, a candidate should not just have a robust study plan but also a comprehensive book list to help them sort out the right choices from a pool of books available online as well offline. To help candidates, here’s a curated subject-wise book-list that has been incessantly recommended by the UPSC toppers. 

UPSC CSE Booklist – Geography

For this section, candidates should largely focus on clarifying their basics on physical geography, political geology and other geological facts. The one best source to brush up on the basics is – NCERTs. Time and again toppers have highlighted the importance of NCERTs and we second that. 

For geography, read class 6-12 NCERT textbooks complimenting it with a world Atlas. Maps help to memorise concepts for a longer period of time. For advanced geography, ‘Certificate Physical and Human Geography’ by GC Leong is one other recommended book. 

UPSC CSE booklist – History and Indian Heritage

History is a vast subject including the study of ancient, medieval and modern history as well as India post-independence. Indian Heritage and culture is another integral part of the History syllabus. 

Ancient India by R S Sharma (Old NCERT) covers the ancient history syllabus and many questions have been directly asked from this book in the prelims exam. History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra (Old NCERT) has good coverage of topics of Medieval History of India.

For Modern History, ‘A Brief History of Modern India’ by Spectrum as well as ‘A new look at Modern Indian History’ by BL Grover covers the modern history topics in a well-explained manner. For Indian Heritage and culture the aspirant should go through the book ‘Facets of Indian Culture’ by Spectrum and also through the website of ‘Centre for Cultural Resources and Training’.

UPSC CSE booklist – Indian Polity

Popular as the ‘Bible of Indian Polity’ among UPSC aspirants, ‘Indian Polity’ by Laxmikant is one of the most relevant books to understand the constitutional structure of the country. Apart from this, ‘An Introduction to the Constitution of India’ by D. D. Basu and ‘The Constitution of India’ by P. M. Bakshi are two other recommended books. 

UPSC CSE booklist – Economics

To understand the basic concepts and terminology of the economy, class 9 to 12 NCERTs are the best sources for UPSC aspirants. Apart from these, ‘Indian Economy’ by Ramesh Singh and Economic Survey is also recommended, however, both these sources are widely extensive and candidates have to practice a selective study method as per the UPSC CSE syllabus. 

UPSC CSE booklist – Environment and Ecology

Over the years, the number of questions asked from this section has substantially increased. Hence, aspirants should lay emphasis on its preparation. The recommended books for this section are — Environmental studies for undergraduate courses by Erach Bharucha and the study materials provided by NIOS. 

Aspirants should also keep a close watch on the development projects of the Ministry of Environment & Forests, the Government of India, and the United Nations’ UNFCCC.

UPSC CSE booklist – Science and technology

Other than general science syllabus, there are no certain books recommended to prepare this section. Candidates should focus on the current events related to the science and technology syllabus prescribed by the UPSC and keep a close watch on the ISRO and DRDO websites for the latest developments.

Current affairs form a major part of the UPSC Civil Services question paper, therefore, apart from the static syllabus, candidates should regularly follow the news events. 

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