Civil Services Examination is famous for pinning down aspirants with a huge syllabus. The syllabus looks large enough to handle. But, this dilemma can be overcome if a candidate reads from the right book and saves time. This helps you cover up the entire syllabus in minimum possible time. One should always remember that every book in the market has the same information embedded in them but in a different manner. Our job is to pick up only those books which cover the syllabus in the best possible way and is easy to revise. Also remember, that most of these books cover up the static syllabus. Along with that, you must also refer Current Affairs relevant for the exam throughout the year. For Current Affairs, read any good newspaper daily and relate it with the syllabus. We recommend reading The Hindu and The Indian Express.
To help you out in this matter, we suggest you the best books for Civil Services Preliminary Examination and Civil Services Mains General Studies (GS 1-4) Papers. Remember, as a Civil Service Aspirant, your task is to read a subject or a topic from one or two sources (mostly one) and revise them again and again. This improves your retention abilities in the exam and helps you get a good score. To know the booklist, you should have a clear picture of the syllabus in your head.
The list has been divided into two broad sections:
- Prelims Book-List
- Mains Book-List (excluding Optionals)
Preliminary Stage has 2 Papers:
- General Studies (GS)
GENERAL STUDIES (Prelims)
The Booklist according to the Syllabus is as follows:
- History of India and Indian National Movement.
For Art & Culture, one can refer Indian Art and Culture by Nitin Singhania. For Modern History, one must read History of Modern India by Bipan Chandra. This is a very good book and covers Pre-Independence Modern History of India and Indian National Movement. A Brief History Of Modern India is also a very good book and must be referred for quick revision (very small book). Only if time permits, one can have a look at From Plassey To Partition and After.
- Indian and World Geography-Physical, Social, Economic Geography of India and the World.
Geography requires strong grip over mapping of India and the World along with theoretical portion. For Mapping, it is important that you always have an atlas nearby. Orient Blackswan’s Atlas is good for World Geography whereas Oxford’s Atlas for India is good for Geography of India. If you cant’ afford to buy both, then buy any one. For Physical Geography, Oxford’s Certificate Physical and Human Geography is very good and is a must read. For Indian Geography, read Geography of India by Majid Hussain.
- Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.
For Indian Polity, look nowhere else and read Indian Polity for Civil Services – 5th Edition by Laxmikanth. If you have ample time and want to refer another book along with Laxmikanth, then you can also have a look at Introduction To The Constitution Of India by D.D Basu.
- Economic and Social Development-Sustainable Development, Poverty, Inclusion, Demographics, Social Sector Initiatives, etc.
For Indian Economy Basics, read Indian Economy by Ramesh Singh. Once you are thorough with the basics, you can move on to current affairs. Economy looks really tough if you don’t know the basics. Otherwise, it is very simple to understand. One of the most important source for Economy, both Prelims and Mains, is the Economic Survey (Download for FREE). Make sure you read each and every line of the Economic Survey and revise it thoroughly.
- General issues on Environmental ecology, Biodiversity and Climate Change
For Environment, one can refer Environment by Shankar or Environment for Civil Services Prelims and Mains by D.R Khuller
- General Science & Miscellaneous
For General Science and various miscellaneous topics that you may have left unintentionally, you must refer either Arihant’s General Studies Manual – Paper 1 2017 or McGraw Hill’s General Studies Paper I 2017. This book really helps in revising as well staying on track according to the syllabus.
Other important books:
- India Yearbook-2017
- McGraw Hill’s General Studies Question Bank Paper I
- NCERT textbooks – Class VI to Class XII for Social Science (Geography, Polity, History, Economics and Sociology – Class XI and XII) whereas Class VI to X Science (for non-Science students) and Class XII Biology (last 5 chapters).
Mains Exam is divided into 9 papers:
- General Studies – 1
- General Studies – 2
- General Studies – 3
- General Studies – 4
- Language Paper – 1
- Language Paper – 2
- Optional Paper – 1
- Optional Paper – 2
General Studies Papers require a strong grip over Current Affairs and interlinking of concepts to create a holistic picture of an issue. Hence, along with the recommended books, candidates must supplement their notes with current affairs relevant to the syllabus.
You do not need any book to prepare for Essay. Essay preparation requires regular practice. Still, if one wants to have a look at some sample essays, then refer to Arihant’s ESSAYS for Civil Services and Other Competitive Examinations or McGraw Hill’s Contemporary Essays for Civil Services Examination
GENERAL STUDIES – 1,2,3,4
Apart from the books mentioned for Prelim’s, one can refer the following books and rest can be done through newspapers and current affairs magazines (like Frontline, Yojana and Kurukshetra Magazines):
- India Since Independence by Bipan Chandra
- India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy
- Mastering Modern World History by Norman Lowe
- Sociology Class XI and XII NCERTs
- Lexicon For Ethics ,Integrity and Aptitude
- McGraw Hill’s Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude