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UPSC Prelims Booklist by Toppers

UPSC Prelims Booklist by Toppers

Having a good UPSC Prelims booklist is an important part of preparation. With to many UPSC toppers suggesting so many book, it sometimes becomes overwhelming to study for UPSC Prelims. However, barring the discussion around the topic, it’s crucial to have a booklist for UPSC Prelims which is both comprehensive and practical.

In this article, we’ll discuss the list of books that you should be referring to individual subjects in Prelims preparation. For convenience, we’ve classified the UPSC Prelims subjects into 10, which is also in line with the official UPSC Prelims syllabus. For more detailed discussion on UPSC Prelims Syllabus, read this post.

UPSC Prelims Subjects

  1. Art & Culture
  2. Ancient History
  3. Medieval History
  4. Modern Indian History
  5. Polity
  6. Indian Economy
  7. Geography
  8. Environment
  9. Science & Technology
  10. Current Affairs & General Knowledge

UPSC Prelims Booklist for Individual Subjects

1. Art & Culture

INDIAN ART & CULTURE by Nitin Singhania (McGraw Hill Publications) – Buy Here

2. Ancient Indian History

India’s Ancient Past by R S Sharma (Oxford India Paperbacks) – Buy Here

3. Medieval Indian History

History of Medieval India by Satish Chandra (Orient Black Swan Publications) – Buy Here

4. Modern Indian History

For modern Indian History, you can use EITHER of the following two books. Both are equally good. While Bipin Chandra is more in a story format, Spectrum Publication is more in a factual format.

A Brief History of Modern India by Rajiv Ahir (Spectrum Books) – Buy Here


History of Modern India by Bipin Chandra (Orient Black Swan Publications) – Buy Here

Please note that there is also another book on Modern History by Bipin Chandra which is more detailed and has chapters 1857 onwards. Title : India’s Struggle for Independence: 1857-1947. This book is very bulky and detailed vis-a-vis exam requirement. So you may stick to the one mentioned above and ensure a thorough study of it.

For list of governors, list of congress sessions etc. We recommend preparing your own tables and using them as an appendix (attachment) with your original book.

5. Polity

Indian Polity by M Laxmikanth, McGraw Hills Publications – Buy Here

For UPSC Prelims Polity subject, this book is good enough. Whatever else you feel is missing from the syllabus, you should compensate by doing your own research and making notes for that topic.

6. Economy

Indian Economy by Vivek Singh (S Chand Publications) – Buy Here

Again, this book is enough for economy. Along with this, you should refer to Indian budget document which is published every year. You don’t have to read the entire budget document, you may get a synopsis/summary of budget from any of the standard institution and stick with it. Vivek Singh Telegram Channel should help in this regard.

7. Geography

You’ll need multiple books to study Geography. All are important, so do them well.

  1. NCERT IX Std. Geography (Title – Contemporary India – I)
  2. NCERT X Std. Geography (Title – Contemporary India – II)
  3. NCERT XI Std. Geography (Title – Fundamentals of Physical Geography)
  5. NCERT XII Std. Geography (Title – Fundamentals of Human Geography)
  6. NCERT XII Std. Geography (Title – India – People and Economy)
  7. Oxford Atlas – Buy Here

If you’ve already purchased a Black Swan publication’s Atlas, that’s okay. Stick with it.

Having to read so many books may seem overwhelming. But that should happen only for the first reading. There is good amount of repetition from IX & X std. books in XI & XII books. As you read, you should identify the repetition and mark it so that you do it only once 2nd reading onwards.

Some of you may also have GC Leong book with you. That can be used as well. In that case, just avoid doing same topics from NCERT, and move on.

8. Environment

PMF IAS Environment – Buy Here

Some of you may have already been using Shankar IAS environment book. That is also fine as long as you do it thoroughly.

9. Science & Technology

There are two aspects to S&T, static and dynamic.

For static PCB (Physics, Chemistry & Biology), refer 9th and 10th std. NCERT, nothing else.

For Dynamic Science & Tech (Biotechnology, Space Science etc.), refer Vision IAS Current Affairs Monthly Magazines. Each magazine has a separate section on S&T. These are freely available – Click here to access

10. Current Affairs and General Knowledge

Again, just refer Vision IAS Current Affairs Monthly Magazines, nothing else. Ensure repeated readings of these monthly magazines – Click here to access

UPSC Prelims Booklist – Previous Year Questions Book

Apart from UPSC Prelims booklist mentioned below, there is one book that matters above everything else. UPSC Prelims PYQ Book. The most important criteria for the book is, it should have a good subject-wise and topic-wise classification of questions.

Honestly, we believe our classification is best in the market. And you can access all the 1995-2023 PYQs for free on current website.

UPSC Prelims PYQ Book (1995-2023) – Click here to buy PDF book

Click here to access subject/topic-wise PYQs for free

UPSC Prelims PYQ Book Image
UPSC Prelims PYQ Book
  • Collection of more than 3200 Previous Year Questions (1995-2023)
  • All questions divided into 10 Subjects
  • Subject further sub-divided into more than 75 topics
  • All answers according to official answer key

How to Use UPSC Prelims Booklist by Toppers

The above booklist is most comprehensive and complete for UPSC Prelims. Same books have been used and recommended by toppers like Anudeep Durishetty, Kanishak Kataria, Ishita Kishore etc.

However, having a good UPSC Prelims booklist is only the first step in your preparation. Having books alone will not ensure your selection in UPSC-CSE. Also know that a single reading of these books is not sufficient. You should do the multiple readings, of every book. This will ensure that you understand/remember all the topics in the book. Further, the mock tests will work as an excellent feedback mechanism to keep your preparation on track.

To pass UPSC Prelims, you don’t need any other resource. Don’t search further. Just get these books and start your preparation! Feel free to ask any doubt in the comments. If you think that any of the book is missing from the above UPSC Prelims booklist, or want to know about some particular book, let us know.

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Thank you so much!


Many Thanks for your trust on Education Province.

Aditya Ninad

This certainly is a comprehensive booklist.


Thanks for kind words😊 Aditya.
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