Invitation : Attend OPEN Classes on Current Affairs for Mains 2017 on 16th & 17th at 11AM

Walk in to the Test Center at 11AM Today or Register for the 2 Days Open Classes, or enroll for the ONLINE / OFFLINE Current Affairs for Mains 2017 by visiting the below link A registration fee of Rs. 50/day is charged for the two day event to have a correct estimate of the number of people attending.

Hobby - Amazing Books To Read Before You Die!


Books are your best friends. ( Some dog lovers may not agree with me here, to them; books are your second best friends :P )

Purpose of this new discussion: There are many intellectually stimulating/enlightening/illuminating/motivating/ books that we come across and there are many more that we are oblivious to. I request you all to share your views on books that you have on your reading list or you have read at some point of time in your life and would highly recommend it to any IAS aspirant. We can also have a healthy discussion on the controversial/salient aspects of these books. (Famous authors are always controversial. ;) )

This discussion is not restricted only to books that are relevant for UPSC. We can also discuss Alchemist or Atlas Shrugged if you want. Chetan bhagat fans are welcome too ( I love Chetan Bhagat ). :P

Let me start with my reading/wish list:

1. Imagining India - Nandan Nilekani.
2. Walking with lions - Tales from the diplomatic past - Natwar Singh.
3. Pax Indica - If I get to lay my hands on this one. :(

- Will keep updating.

Expecting a purposeful & meaningful contribution here. :)

Don't be Serious, Be sincere!
------- Borrowed from Chetan Bhagat. :)

@fallen_leaves & @descorpio86 help me take this thread forward. :)


  • edited June 2013
    @Descorpio86 comment on a thread.
    Well yeah, I do try to read, but UPSC doesn't really give you too much time for extraneous reading does it? But off the top of my head I would say India after Gandhi by Ramachandra Guha and Idea of India by Sunil Khilnani are terrific reads and won't make you feel like you are wasting your time while preparing for the exam. I recently read Service of the State by Bhaskar Ghose, and found it quite captivating and quite an eye opener into the life of an IAS officer. If you like World History I would also recommend Hobsbawm( "Age of" series), his insights into the evolution of the modern world are quite... well... insightful.. hehe (As you can see I am partial to history) Reading India Since Independence by Bipan Chandra right now.

    I have heard good things about Imagining Indiaas well. No first hand info though. There's a collection of articles called Re-Imagining India as well of which I have read a couple of articles(my roommate had a copy) and could recommend.
  • edited June 2013
    1.Himalayan Blunder by Brig Dalvi on Indo-China war-(must read)
    2.India after Gandhi - R Guha
  • @partho Kudos! Appreciate your initiative! :) For now, can you move those posts from the other thread to this one, by virtue of being a Moderator? :D :) Further, we will move the discussion in this thread itself. Cheers! :)
  • @vibin comment on a thread.
    Service of the State by Bhaskar Ghose , normally read by officer trainees before leaving to Mussorrie . Seen my friends having their own respected copies

    Imagining India is a good buy , will make you an obvious feeling towards development and state-building[ Normally we aspirants do read full of leftist oblique ones .]
  • edited May 2013
    Being a Dog-lover (got 3 back at home) and an avid reader (got a library too), this image expresses my feelings the best! :D

  • edited June 2013
    @fallen_leaves comment on a thread.
    @descorpio86 I must say, those are some really nice reads. "Pax Indica" is indeed worth the time and resources! "The Service of the State" is on my reading list, I wonder when would I have the time! :( However, "The Insiders View" by Jawed Chaudhary and "The Honest Always Stands Alone" by C.G.Somiah I.A.S (Home Secy (GoI), CVC, CAG) are also worth considering!
    @partho To add to what has already been mentioned, "Imagining India" is indeed worth a read. As a college senior (IAS-2011) puts it, this book helps you understand the Governments' perspective.

    Recently I was reading "The Life of Mahatama Gandhi" by Louis Fischer. As much as its useful for the "Modern India and Freedom Struggle" portion, it also helps understand why Mahatama Gandhi is revered throughout the World!

    There are two more books(among many others), which I would recommend. They may not be directly helpful in the Civil Services examination, but they do make up for some good reading and help in developing a wider perspective!

    1. "The Story of India" by Michael Woods, 10,000 year history of the Indian Subcontinent.
    2. "Pakistan: Eye of the Storm" by Bennet Jones. It gives you the other-side of the story. The neutral/ 3rd party/ non-Indian take on Pakistan in totality, which includes the Kashmir issues among a lot else.

    PS - I read "Pakistan: Eye of the Storm" back in 2009. So, I am not sure if they have reprinted with updates. The one I have is with General Musharraf on the cover page!
  • Jane eyre
  • edited June 2013
    A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini.

    A heart-wrenching tale of two Afghan women. An amazing book.
  • edited May 2013
    Finished reading India Since Independence by Bipan Chandra recently. My admiration for Nehru has only increased after reading it. One would realize what an outstanding statesman Nehru was. A cut above the rest.
  • Through The Corridors Of Power- P C Alexander

    I believe you all know about PC Alexander...he was one of most powerful Bureaucrat in the History of being the right hand of Indira Gandhi...he gave insights of Real Polity during Indira's era (not that we read in Laxmikant or else) :-/
  • edited May 2013
    "Everybody loves good drought " - P Sainath

    I cant comment on this book , it will be disrespecting the egregious author ^:)^
    2017--> 8th attempt
  • WINGS OF FIRE -An Autobiography A.P.J. Abdul Kalam with Arun Tiwari

    This inspirational autobiographical account takes one to the pages of history of Space odyssey of India as well as gives a vivid account of the life of Missile man of India.

    Quoting some lines of the above book:

    "We are all born with a divine fire in us.Our efforts should be to give wings to fire and fill the world with the glow of goodness."
    CSE Mains-2014 [Political Science & International Relations]

    "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass,it's about learning to dance in the rain.”
  • There are a lot of books that I would like to mention, but I would go with only Non-Fiction for now. Autobiography / Biography / Non-Fiction in general / Anything else too!

    Autobiography/ Biography:-
    1. Daughter of the East - Benazir Bhutto
    2. Dreams from my Father - Barrack H. Obama

    1. Three Cups of Tea.
    2. The Innocent Man - John Grisham. Story of 2 men convicted for a crime they didn't commit.
    3. All 4 books by - Asne Seierstad, A Norwegian war correspondent.
    4. A Long Way Gone - Ishamael Beah. Its the story of a child soldier, from Sierra Leone.
    5. Hello Bastar - Rahul Pandita. A good perspective into Left Wing Extremism in India. Though I personally found it a little too skewed towards the extremists.
    6. Paths of Glory - Jeffrey Archer. The story of George Mallory, said to be the 1st man to climb Mt. Everest, but not the 1st to come down successfully!

    1. Fault Line - Raghuram Rajan.
    2. Breakout Nations - Got the book, but haven't read it yet!

    1. John Grisham - Each of his book :D
    2. Lee Child - Again all!
    3. Khaled Hosseini - The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Yet to read, And the Mountains Echoed! :(

    Phew! Thats the list, for now! I will follow it up with more, post Prelims! Lol! :D

  • Fiction:-
    1. John Grisham - Each of his book :D
    2. Lee Child - Again all!
    3. Khaled Hosseini - The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Yet to read, And the Mountains Echoed! :(
    Which is the must-read book by Lee Child? Haven't read him but planning to get one of his books after the exam.

    Khaled Hosseini - The Kite Runner is one of my favorites!
    One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.
  • edited May 2013
    Great initiative !!!

    1 India : Development and Participation - Dreze & Sen
    2 Argumentative Indian Amartya Sen
    3 Open Secrets by MK Dhar (former joint Director of IB - you get an insight about The Intellignece Agency's " good deeds" and plans in NE and Punjab)
    4 India Unbound Gurcharan Das

    * Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl ( My best)
    * Autobiography of a Yogi ( for those exploring spiritual realm)
    ~ APFC 2015
  • @gdogra Have you read India Unbound? I am planning to read that as soon as prelims get over. Whats your take on it?
  • I was just going through my "Order History" at Flipkart and LandmarkOnTheNet. Lol. Few more additions, which I wanted to make right away :D

    1. A Passage to India - E. M. Foster.
    2. English, August - Upamanyu Chatterjee (IAS)
    3. Shashi Tharoor - The Elephant, the Tiger and the Cell Phone; Pax Indica; The Five Dollar Smile (nice collection of short stories)!
    4. William Dalrymple - Nine Lives and City of Djinns, still to read the rest! :(
    5. It's not about the bike - Lance Armstrong. Its still a favorite of mine, irrespective of whatever may have transpired!

    Old favorites:-
    1. Malgudi Days - We all know who :D
    2. Man Eaters of Kumaon - Jim Corbett.

    And the epic, a favorite of UPSC back in 70s and 80s! -> Freedom at Mignight! :D
  • edited May 2013
    nice initiative @partho

    books that i found interesting(read most of them) mixture of both fiction and non fiction

    1. China's nightmare america's dream
    2. Why Nations Fail hte origins of power prosperity and poverty
    3. a fine balance
    4. ooga-boga (poems)
    5. the book of gods and devils
    6. the bed of procrustes
    7. the name of the rose
    8. the consolidations of philosophy
    9. walking with comerades
    10. from ecstacy to agony and back
    11. public power in age of empire
    12. what is art? :| (*)
    Man is sometimes extraordinarily, passionately, in love with suffering.
  • edited May 2013
    Oh dear! I did not expect such overwhelming response! :D

    Thank you all. :)

    The books that has been mentioned here are classics! I have heard about them at some point of time but read very few. Have to put on my reading glasses again. :-B

  • @khajoor One of the first that I read by Lee Child was - "One Shot"! It still is a favorite of mine. This would be followed by "Without Fail" and "Bad Luck and Trouble" Do start with the earlier ones, as of late, the books have become quite predictable and you really don't get the same feeling of the usual "Jack Reacher" :D

    I have read all of those published till date, last being "A Wanted Man". But Lee has started to loose his sheen! The last one that was genuinely exciting till the last page was - "61 hours"! :)
  • haha people are posting order history too.

    i would like to include the books ordered and read over the past few months

    1. the masque of africa
    2. lucifer effect
    3. moral animal-why we are the way we are
    4. bound together and
    5.captive imagination
    Man is sometimes extraordinarily, passionately, in love with suffering.
  • India After Gandhi by Ramchandra Guha a fabulous book read it sometime ago.

    Some others which I think should be read:

    1. City of Joy - Dominique Lapierre
    2. Maximum City - Suketu Mehta (the best books abt Mumbai)
    3. Shantaram - G.D Roberts (famous for its one liners)
    4. The Reluctant Fundamentalist - Mohsin Hamid
    5. The Godfather - Mrio Puzo

    And yes the other books mentioned by all of you above are definitely worth a read as well.
  • edited May 2013
    @gdogra Have you read India Unbound? I am planning to read that as soon as prelims get over. Whats your take on it?
    This is what the most qualified man who could review the book had to say :-

    However if you read Imagining India- you may well find many overlaps - both represent the neo liberal perspective.
    ~ APFC 2015
  • A humble request to everyone. Please be discreet in your suggestions. Such huge lists are overwhelming. It'll only dissuade one from picking even a single book from among the myriad names that are being suggested here. How about limiting oneself to 5 best of the best books he/she has read? Helps the not-so-voracious-readers.

    Just my personal opinion. You may differ.
  • edited May 2013
    haha people are posting order history too.

    i would like to include the books ordered and read over the past few months

    1. the masque of africa
    2. lucifer effect
    3. moral animal-why we are the way we are
    4. bound together and
    5.captive imagination
    @woodpecker Lol! So I see you pointing at me eh! I have read a decent no of books, and I had to check my "Order History" to add to the list. And yes. My "Order" to "Reading" ratio is around 95% :D ! As I quoted, "Outside a dog, a book is man's best friend!" :)
Sign In or Join to comment.

Courses by ForumIAS for CSE
ForumIAS is trusted by over 10,000+ students for their Prelims, Mains and Interview Preparation and we currently run several assistance programs to help students from Civil Services prelims preparation to rank upgradation to IAS. You can enroll for these programs by making the payment through the links below

1. Mains Guidance Program 2017 - July 1st : Batch C ( 24 Seats | 21 GS + Essay Tests ) | Test Plan | Payment Link |
2. Mains Guidance Program 2017 - 7th August : Batch D ( 50 Seats| 8 GS Tests ) | Test Plan | Payment Link
3. Current Affairs Classes for Mains 2017 (OFFLINE) - 16th August - ( 200 Issues for Mains 2017 ) | Class Plan | Enrollment Link
4. Current Affairs (Online) Classes for Mains 2017 - 20th August | Details | Enrollment Link
5. Prelims Test Series 2018 - Coming Soon 6. Mains Guidance Program for Mains 2018 - Coming soon

1. Open Session on DAF Filling : What you fill in your Detailed Application form, will decide the marks you get in the Interview, the service that you will get and the state you will live in , for the rest of your life. Last but not the least, it will also decide who you will marry. Don't make mistakes. Join us for an open session on filling up the DAF. We will be assisted by ForumIAS Members who have secured a service or rank in this initiative.


We are a secret self-moderated community for Civil Services preparation. Feel free to join, start a discussion, answer a question or just to say Thank you.

Just dont spread the word ;)

Sign in or join with Facebook or Google

Subscribe to ForumIAS Blog