Reference Books For UPSC Civil Services Mains 2014 (New Pattern Syllabus)

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Strategy For Mains Exam

A Guide For Mains – Excellent Book

NEW: Daily Answer Writing Challenge!

For UPSC mains one need to supplement their every day Newspaper (The Hindu) reading with certain books to have a deep insight over varied topics that are now part of the new syllabus.

To gain knowledge on diverse topics it is prudent to read standard texts rather than depending on materials provided by various coaching institutions. First hand reading of basic books enables aspirant to tackle questions of different dimensions.

Reading newspaper everyday is sine qua non of UPSC  preparation. A fortnightly magazine like Frontline is a must to enhance understanding about current events related to India and abroad. If possible, also go through The Economist magazine to understand international events.

Following is the list of books that are necessary for UPSC Civil Services Mains exam (links are given to Flipkart which provides nearly 40% – 50% discount on each book and it has home delivery facility to every corner in India- Of course you can buy from nearest shop if  that is comfortable and affordable!):

1) Shorter Constitution Of India (Set of 2 Volumes) 14th Editon – D.D.Basu (THIS IS PURELY FOR REFERENCE – VERY GOOD BOOK TO HAVE)

OR This Small Book :

Introduction to the Constitution of India

2) India 2014 – Publication Division, Govt.of India 


3) Economic Survey 2013-2014


4) India Since Independence – new edition (Bipan Chandra)


5) India’s Struggle For Independence – Bipan Chandra

6)Indian Economy : For Civil Services Examinations 5th Edition (2013) – Ramesh Singh


For Beginners:

The Indian Economy – Sanjiv Verma

Available on Amazon India

8) Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations 4th Edition – Laxmikanth


9) Geography of India- Majid Hussain


10) Ethics In Governance


11) India After Gandhi: The History Of The World’s Largest Democracy


12) Mastering Modern World History – New Edition – Norman Lowe

Or Buy this Imported Vesrion updated with in-depth chapters on Arab Spring and 2008 Financial Crisis: Mastering Modern World History -5th Edition, Norman Lowe


13) Trends in Indian Culture and Heritage: For Civil Services


Or this book from Government of India: The Gazetteer of India: History and Culture Vol II


14) Select Constitutions: 16th Edition – S Chand


15) India’s Foreign Policy – Muchkund Dubey


16) Challenge And Strategy : Rethinking India’s Foreign Policy – Rajiv Sikri

(Buy from AMAZON India)

17) History of the World from the Late Nineteenth to the Early Twenty First Century – Arjun Dev (As Norman Lowe is not available anywhere, This is the best book available that covers all the topics)


18) Social Problems in India 2 Edition – Ram Ahuja


19) Politics and Ethics of the Indian Constitution - Review


20) Public Institutions in India: Performance and Design – PRATAPA BHANU MEHTA

21) Certified Physical and Human Geography – Goh Cheng Leong

22) India’s National Security – A Reader (Oxford University Press – Important for Paper-IV GS)

Available On Amazon India

23) Indian Social System – Ram Ahuja



Other Books Civil Services Aspirants Must Read (DURING LEISURE):

1) The Wonder That Was India- A.L.Basham

2) India Unbound: The Social and Economic Revolution from Independence to the Global Information Age – Gurcharan Das

3) Pax Indica: India and the World of the 21st Century – Shashi Tharoor (Pre-order 30% off )

4) An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions – Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze

5) The Argumentative Indian : Writings on Indian History – Amartya Sen

Of course you need to read NCERT texts as well. The above list is for reference and reading as well. As you have plenty of time for Mains, you can savour these books leisurely.

Don’t forget: The Hindu is the mother of Mains preparation now. Cut and Paste every article related to syllabus from October 2012 to November 2013!

  • Amir

    Does the content of INDIA year book changes significantly each year. As I am planning to take UPSC exam in 2015, so Should I wait for the new edition or go with the existing one?
    And when does the new one come in Market?
    Thanks in Advance.

    • sachin mayekar

      1. Almost 98% of the data of ‘IYB’ remains the same.
      2. The things that change in a yearbook edition-wise,
      A. Diary of events
      B. Names of ministers/ President (if new appointed)
      C. New ministry & department list (if created)
      D. New schemes of Government (if launched)
      E. New missiles etc. (if launched)
      3. U r appearing in 2015, so u can buy ‘IYB’ 2014 for preparing well
      4. ‘IYB’ is released in december or jan.
      5. Welcome (in advance)

  • ashish001

    sir i choose political science as my optional in mains and want to appear in 2014 exam.
    sir will you please guide how to prepare effectively from basic .is ignou
    books can help me .i have MA political science books.

  • ganesh

    Pls provide me economics optional papers sir..

  • richa

    sir how is unique quintessence reference buk of history by j.k. chopra

    • annie

      very average.

  • Ankita

    World history syllabus as mentioned in the mains syllabus, covers everything from 18th century onwards, but the books that you mentioned provide information only from 20th century(almost) onwards..
    So, is that book enough along with the NCERT’s and the material you have provided, or do we have to go through something else as well?

    • annie

      in mains 2013, many questions came from world history. do not neglect this portion, read thoroughly, starting from industrial revolution. i recommend starting from wikipedia, then you can move to some good ebook.

  • reshma ashok ingale

    i want detailed syllabus for ias mains.i stay in solapur(maharashtra)
    here no coaching classes are there for upsc & i am working as accountant.i wanted to become an ias it has a dream of me since childhood.i had done i complete preparation of upsc mains
    while doing job,sir i can devote 4 to 5 hours a day for studies is this sufficient for preparation of ias.sir

    • admin

      4 hours daily is enough for targeting mains 2014 if your basics are good. otherwise target 2015. coaching is irrelevant in current era. search internet for preparation strategies, i recommend mrunal

  • reshma ashok ingale

    sir please guide me

  • reshma ashok ingale

    from where to start preparation for mains

  • Rahul Dubey

    I have just started preparing for Civil services. I am student , Although I am form English Background I find it very difficult to understand different Political, Economic, Geographical, and constitutional terms which I encounter while reading. I just want to clarify whether it happens to all who start preparing or I am lagging Behind and how should I cope up with this.

    • admin

      i am not discouraging you but you need to be aware of the fact that your English is not good.
      If you accept this fact, improvement is not difficult. Start reading newspapers, preferably online, so that you can search any difficult word’s meaning instantly.
      start maintaining notes. while doing so, try this method – when you encounter a difficult word, use it in summary/notes but with meaning in brackets

  • saif

    dear sir u did nt mention any book for world geo… kindly plz mention…
    urs obidiently…

    • admin

      for world geo, ncert is sufficient, even for mains. if you still want more buy majid hussain’s book.

  • prashanth tillu

    good evening sir,
    im pursuing my btech 2nd year , and my goal is to be an I.P.S officer. i have started my preparations for prelims exam….i came to know that ncert books and magazines such as yojana and kurukshetra helps a lot for civil aspirants..
    im requesting you sir to give me some guidance about reffernce books and about my preparation….
    thank you sir…

    • admin

      yojana, kurukshetra are indeed good. available for free online. download last 1-2 years and start reading cover to cover.

  • prashanth tillu

    at present im referring arihant book for general studies paper 1

    • admin

      arihant is fine but give more importance to newspapers, traditional books, ncerts, etc.

  • nikita k

    can anybody tell me which sections to read from datt and sundharam for gs3?? im in a fix, help would be much appreciated

    • pk

      answer depends on whether your optional is economics or not. if not, i don’t recommend dutt and sundhram. it is very detailed and bulky, if you go by topics, almost all are important in some way. look at the 2013 mains paper, you wont be able to answer one question using the book. for economy part use internet and newspapers. if basics bad use some ebook.

  • Pearls


    Can you pls list out the names of NCERT books for civil services.As iam really confused about what to read and what not to read from these NCERT books pls help me sir.

    Thank You

    • pk

      for history refer std 8th to 12th, old syllabus, according to syllabus you need to read selectively, for geo refer std 11, 12 books. almost entire content is very relevant. also, note that even each std book may be in 2-3 parts depending on source. i prefer ebooks. you can visit mrunal for links.

  • sandeep

    2014 attempt will be last attempt for me
    I left my job in june 2013
    started preparing but still struggling with Ncert….I have started feeling guilty
    now only 8 months in hand as pre is on 24th august
    is i t possible to crack the exam?
    plz suggest me
    hw to approach…I am really started feeling low
    as i left my job had a 5 years of exp…family responsibilty is alos der
    but i am managing wid parents supports
    don’t know wat to do…hw to do…in mumbai there is no onw to talk on upsc…
    plz guide me…i will be thank ful to u

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  • sanjay

    sir plz reccommend books for ancient history and medieval history because in your reference list u’ve stressed mostly on modern history…

  • Ambika

    do i need to buy NCERT books of class-6 to class-12.I have the e-book versions of it.but it is really very very difficult to read from a laptop and take down also give a pain to my eye.I am asking u please give me a suggession what to do?

  • Sanjay

    Sir I m just starts Upsc preparation can u tell me plz from we’re started

  • Sandeep S R

    Your suggestions are really helpful for upcoming candidates ….thanks sir..

  • krishna

    Please suggest me books for Ancient History. I am confused with lot of books, For example, Romilla Thapar has alone 4 or 5 books and other authors.
    Sir, Please throw a light on Ancient History preparation books.

  • leena priya

    i have completed my BCA from smu. It is a correspondent course. Am i elligibile for UPSC exam?
    sir please guide me. i would be thank full to you.

  • Ashish

    Please provide the list of reference books of Agriculture.

  • Harsh vardhan Pandey

    Sir presently I am in class 12 . I am from Bhilai Chattisgarh . And I want to be an IPS officer.Sir I kindly request you to guide me for my initial preparation and suggest the path from now and after 12 th. Please suggest me some books ; or any examination ; any coaching for the same in Delhi or elsewhere . How to prepare from now and everything

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  • Sindhujaah k

    hello sir,
    i have completed my B.E computer science engg.i would like to appear for UPSC on 2015.i dont have clear view on selecting my optional and preparation.can you kindly help me through your guidance.

  • niks

    For 2015 attempt is there need to practise secure mains 2014 …..also tell me from which month current affairs notes require for 2015 attempt…..plz reply ……

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  • sonal

    sir i am sonal sagar i want to know which type of books should be preferred to prepare gs papers 1,2,3,4

  • abhimanyu

    and plz start geography answer writing also..

  • shikham .m

    Dear sir,
    I am a law student, completing B.A.LL.B in 2015. And also targeting CSAT 2015, can you plz tell me is that sufficient time for me now? I choose LAW as optional as my degree in law, is there any negatuve things, in choose such subject in mains ?
    Waiting for rly
    Thank you

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  • sandeep singh

    sir i m a student and for ias exams i want to choose physics as my main subject so regaurding the level of knowledge required for ias sir plj suggest me best books whom i can refer to.

  • Shardul Kadam

    Respected Sir,
    I have NCERT of 11& 12(new and old) also other NCERT of 6-10(new) for history subject. Sir tell me which topics to be covered from these books for Mains preparation. Along with these I hv Bipin Chandra India struggle for freedom. Do I need to go for spectrum for modern to prepare for Mains and which topic to be read. Please reply..

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  • pragyan mohanty

    sir m prgyan fromOdisha ,ctc, now i have completed of my M.A & today i have plan for appear of i.a.s exam, so plz sir, give me your guidance plz sir …….i don’t knw what i do or n’t ……….. i would be thankful to you ……………

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  • prachi

    hello sir.. am a dentist… just started fr mains..preparation…lots f confusion about were to start vith…pls sir can u guide me…started vth gs-1…

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  • gabriel

    Sir, Does one year of current events mean starting from August 2014 for 2015 mains and prelims.

  • Pankaj Jha

    please guide me regarding paper 4 , being a beginner in this paper . i m not able to understand the syllabus and proper way to go ahead. Please give direction in this regard.