8 Must have Books To Clear IAS Prelims 2018 In 1st Attempt

Now you have made your mind to become IAS/IPS/IFS officer and looking for the books and study materials to live your dream life.

Well, you are on the right page, here we have tried our best to guide you at the beginning of this journey with right strategy and approach.  The given booklist is compiled after analysing the profile of 100+ successful IAS aspirants, there were many similarities in their pattern of preparation like

  • They have followed the limited study materials
  • They took revision seriously, instead of reading new topics every day.
  • Many of them cracked the exam with self-preparation
  • Most of them used the books which we are going to mention below

So if you will follow these strategies and techniques while preparation, then you can also crack the UPSC prelims in 1st attempt. Yes, it’s difficult to crack the exam, but not impossible.

In this post, we have shared the 8 most important books for Civil Services Prelims examination paper 1, for prelims paper 2 (CSAT) follow this link. As already mentioned to make this compilation we have considered two things, the first one is the Civil services prelims syllabus (so that you have complete information) and the second one is the  IAS prelims books suggested by toppers. 

Related Guidance 

You might be confused with the topics of paper 1 in prelims, so we have provided the breakdown of these topics and accordingly selected the materials.

Also, check  – Sectional breakdown of UPSC Prelims Question Paper 2016

UPSC Syllabus for Paper I – (200 marks) Duration: Two hours (Counted for the merit rank in the Prelims)

Current events of national and international importance 

For this topic, you have to follow any standard newspaper, such as The Hindu, Indian Express or Times of India. If you don’t have access to the newspaper you can also follow their website and be updated. If you are confused with the topics and don’t know what to choose and how to choose than simply download this compilation of National & International Events. This should give you a brief idea about the topic.

For Editorials, you should follow the Columns of C.Rajamohan, Brahma Challaney, Mihir Sharma, T.A.Ninan, Ashutosh Varshney, Shashi Tharoor, Srinath Raghavan, P.Sainath, Suhasini Haidar

History of India and Indian National Movement

History of India is a broad term, which means you have to cover Ancient, Medieval and Modern Indian History. Indian national Movement is also the part of Modern Indian History. It also includes the culture and Society. For this, we have suggested 4 must have books. 

  • India’s Ancient Past by RS Sharma – Very good book for ancient India portion UPSC prelims. It’s basically upgraded old NCERT BOOK OF 11th which is discontinued.also many relevant questions (at chapter end) which were there in old ncert were removed. It Completely replaces the need to buy old Ncert.

  • A brief History of Modern India (Rajiv Ahir I.P.S ) – This is the best book for modern Indian history, Small in size, and Made only from UPSC point of view.
  • History of Medieval India – This is one of the worth reading books…. Highly recommend for the students preparing for competitive exams.
  • Indian Art and Culture – This Book Is ‘One Stop Solution’ For Indian Culture, Language, Art & Literature. This Book Is Of Great Help To Candidates Of Every Competitive Examination Whether It’s UPSC Or State PSC. 

Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World  

We think this one is simple to understand because syllabus has clearly mentioned the three important branches of both India and World Geography. Apart from NCERT Books here, we have suggested 2 must have books.

  • Certificate of P & M Geo – It’s an outdated book, with useful information. The reason for recommending this books for IAS Prelims is the foundation which it will provide. It’s up to you that how you are going to use it because information is both factual and conceptual.
  • Wizard Geography – The best part of this book: it is so concise yet so complete and yeah, it is better than any Geography notes in the Rajendra Nagar/ Mukherjee Nagar market of Delhi. All the relevant facts, terms, data, concepts are summarised in an easy-to-remember format and this is indeed its forte. You just remember the contents you’ve read this book and that’s what needed in CSE Prelims. Don’t expect anything extra (like – conceptual clarity, pretty diagrams, etc – you’ll have to refer other books to them) and you’ll be satisfied.

Indian Polity and Governance – Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc (2books)

For this you need to focus on two things, first one is the static portion of Indian Polity and Governance, which can be covered with the help of books, which we have mentioned below. The second source will be current affairs for covering schemes, Policy & other Stuff. Here Also 2 books are needed for preparation.

  • Indian Polity 5th Edition – The book itself needs no introduction. It is one of the most popular and comprehensive books on the subject and has been a consistent bestseller for many years. The 5th Edition boasts off few important new topics and existing content has been upgraded.
  • Our Constitution –  The book, ‘Our Constitution’ by Subhash C. Kashyap is a book that gives the readers an ideal introduction to the Indian Constitution.  It is written in such a format that readers from all backgrounds will be able to understand the concepts effectively.

Economic and Social Development Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector initiatives, etc

This topic can be covered with the help of NCERT books for Economics, reference books on economic and Current Affairs.

  • NCERT Books – Download these books for clearing the concepts
  • Current Affairs – For this section, you need to follow news based on economic and social development. You should also focus on recent initiatives taken by the government. We have also compiled this magazine to cover up this section.
  • Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh – Topics are well designed to cover the entire UPSC syllabus. Nowadays UPSC doesn’t ask direct questions but indirect ones…this book is fit for it.


General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity, and Climate Change – that do not require subject specialization

For this section current affairs are really important, you have to pick up the popular and trending issues related to this topic from newspaper and work on those concepts. For covering those concepts and static portion NIOS materials will be really helpful.

You may also follow these books to cover the static portion of the syllabus.


General Science

For this portion again two sources are really important. First, one is NCERT books on Science & Tech and second on is Current Affairs. NCERT books will clear your basic concepts which you have already learned in the school. Current topics of science and tech will keep you updated with the happenings, which is really important for the examination.

So apart from having NCERT books (Which is always free) and current affairs, you need to buy 8 additional books from the market. Which we have suggested here. It is simple to cover the paper 2 of prelims syllabus with these books.


If time permits then you may follow these books (for additional information)

  1. General Studies: Paper I (2018)
  2. Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Sighaniya

IAS Prelims Booklist in Hindi/English For UPSC Civil Services Examination 

 Here we have put the buying links to must-have books from different websites in English & Hindi Version so that you can avail the best deal.

Eng – Stands for English version of Books

Hindi – Stands for Hindi Version of Books

List of Books for UPSC Prelims Link to Get it
India’s Ancient Past RS Sharma Eng – Hindi
Our Constitution Eng – Hindi
Medieval Indian History Eng –  Hindi
A Brief History of Modern India Spectrum Eng – Hindi
Facets of Indian Culture by Spectrum Eng – Hindi
Indian Polity 5th Edition Laxmikanth Eng – Hindi
Certificate Physical and Human Geography Eng – Hindi
Wizard Geography for General Studies  Eng – Hindi
Indian Economy (Ramesh Singh) 9th Edition Eng  – Hindi

Hope you find it useful if you feel we missed something important then please let us know in the comment section below. Have a nice day

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