I have been a member of a CAclubindia for more than 2 years now. But I haven't contributed anything till now. However, this site has been immensely useful for me. This is my 1st article and my way of giving something back to this site for everything that it has given to me. Hope you will all find this article useful.
Before I start with the article itself, I would like to mention some points at the outset.
1) The views expressed below are mine and mine alone. I do not in any way mean to demean any author by this article. However, this being an analytical article, I would be critical where need be. CA is a course where there are loads of reference books available and students are always confused about which books to go for. I don't intend to help you make a firm choice. I would only be providing basic inputs that will guide you in choosing your books. To achieve this purpose, I have to be honest and critical about the books I would be recommending.
2) Secondly, the books which I would be mentioning below are not necessarily used by me. However I have thoroughly gone through all the books which would enable me to offer an insight into them. I have a huge passion for books and as far as academic books are concerned, I spend a lot of time analyzing them. For instance, when I had gone to buy the book for Law, I stood in the bookshop for nearly an hour analyzing and comparing G. K. Kapoor, Padhuka, M. P. Vijaykumar and Munish Bhandari before finally buying one of them. The shopkeeper was on the verge of tearing his hair out!
3) Thirdly and most importantly, irrespective of what books I recommend below, please go to the Institute and get the 'new' Practice Manuals. I say new, because till the last month, they were different from now. I got them about a week back and instantly I knew something was different because I had seen my friend's manuals and his looked totally different. Well, the difference is that the manuals are now designed in the same way as compilations. However, where earlier there were different compilations for PE-2 and PCC, the same have now been merged, covering the period from May 2000 to Nov 2010. Moreover, each chapter in each subject, especially theory, appear in the same order as they do in the Study Material. For instance, Companies Act is divided into four sections just like in the study material. And trust me, they are mighty impressive, especially the ones for Auditing & Law, e.g., Companies Act has a mindboggling 254 questions and I am not even including the unsolved questions. That is way more than what the old compilations had. The Institute has done a fabulous job. So, please do get them for a thorough preparation.
4) This article is especially for those who have/are opting for self study.
IPCC Group 1:
I have only seen one book for accounting and that is P.C. Tulsian. So I cannot offer my views on any other book. P. C. Tulsian has to be one of the finest books written on Accounting. It is the most reliable companion if you are going for self study. All the concepts have adequate explanation with an ample number of illustrations. Then there are an ample number of solved examples as well. Then finally, questions from past CA exams have also been covered. So this is a complete book in all respects. Some of the chapters like Hire Purchase, Branch A/c's, Amalgamation etc which I used to struggle in are now very clear after I used this book. There are also unsolved questions; however if you have done the solved part thoroughly, it is more than enough.
Law, Ethics and Communication:
As I mentioned earlier, I took a long time to select a book for Law and I finally settled for Munish Bhandari. For those who are not aware, Bhandari writes a main book as well as a hand book for CA Final Law. The hand book is a summarized version of the main book. At IPCC level however, he only writes a hand book. But THAT DOES NOT in any way mean that it is a summarized version. It has ample coverage. Read this book thoroughly along with the practise manual and you are done in this subject.
About 2 or 3 years back, G.K. Kapoor was the most well known author for law. However, Munish Bhandari has stormed the market now. For a detailed study of this subject, G. K. Kapoor is an excellent choice. However, since Bhandari offers the same in a more concise manner without compromising on the quality or content, I would suggest Bhandari.
As far as Padhuka is concerned, their law books are not as popular as their audit ones. That is the general idea one gets, though I maybe wrong. So, this book, though it is a complete guide covering RTP's and past exam questions, it doesn't get my vote.
MPV's book would be the second choice after Bhandari. MPV is a fantastic author and his book on law is really good. It is again extremely useful for a detailed study. So those of you who don't like Bhandari's book, can definitely go for this book.
Remember, while selecting a book in law, go for a book which you can study in a way that will help you attempt case studies. And that's what law is all about right? Its not enough to just know the provisions. You also have to know to apply them. From this point of view, Bhandari's book outscores every other book.
Costing and FM:
This is one subject that has given many a students (including me) nightmares. That was until I found out that P. C. Tulsian writes for this subject as well. All my problems disappeared in an instant. I won't go into a detailed analysis since it would be the same as the one I had given for accounting. However, theory is an important part of this subject. So refer the practice manuals for theory.
I have seen many people recommending Padhuka for this subject. As much as I admire their books, I have a strong objection to using this book for Costing FM. I have looked into Padhuka and I simply can't understand in what way does it help in self study. All they have done is arrange the chapters in different sections and accordingly arranged the past exam questions in those sections. But what about conceptual clarity? For practise and theory, fine. This book is good for that. But you can get that from the practise manuals too. So what's the point in studying from this book?
Remember, practising even a 1000 sums won't help you in this subject if your concepts are not clear. So, the best approach to this subject is to clear your concepts thoroughly from Tulsian and then practise the manual as many times as you can. Again I stress that theory is very important.
There are a lot of good books in the market for this subject. At IPCC level, it mainly boils down to three :
1) T. N. Manoharan
3) Ahuja - Gupta.
I studied from Manoharan and I would also recommend it for you all. It has ample coverage, a large number of illustrations and case laws and is written in a beautiful, lucid manner. It also has a separate chapter on Computation of Total Income which covers all the past exam questions. I have about 50 questions in that chapter in my book and that is more than enough. For Indirect Tax though, the Study Material is the best. I was not satisfied with Manoharan for this part.
Singhania is gigantic in every sense. The first time I looked at this book, I didn't know how to react. Those of you who have read from this book, please tell me how on earth did you manage to study from this book. Forget the size; the small font and the never ending footnotes is a real pain on the eyes. No doubt, it is by far the most complete book on IPCC Taxation, but 'completeness' is not the sole parameter on which I select books. So its a big no from me for this book.
Girish Ahuja and Ravi Gupta's book is on par with Manoharan. Those of you who don't want to go for Manoharan can go for this book.
Remember, in IPCC, the institute has increased the weightage of Indirect Tax to 50 marks as opposed to 25 marks in PCC. So, whichever book you go for, IDT is the area where you will score more for obvious reasons. And study material is the best for IDT. So in a way, you are buying a book only for DT and for that Manoharan is more than enough.
IPCC Group 2:
Same as accounting.
Auditing and Assurance:
There is always a huge debate as to whether one should go for Padhuka or Surbhi Bansal. Yes, there is V. K. Agarwal and Kamal Garg as well, but it is the above mentioned two books which are always a hot topic of discussion or rather I would say, argument.
Well, to start with, Padhuka is like a Bible in audit. If you have done this book thoroughly, you don't have to throw so much as a glance towards any other book. It covers past exam questions, RTP's, practical case studies and Auditing Standards. What more do you need? I studied from this book and I am pretty satisfied. However, the main drawback of this book is its size. This is what many people say. I disagree. The drawback is not in this book, its in us. Many students complete this book atleast once, but they have simply no energy left to go for a second and third revision. Panic sets in and before you know, difficult turns to impossible. This is not at all right. To be very honest, it is the 1st reading that should be difficult since everything is new. The 2nd and 3rd readings are something that you are familiar with. If properly planned, this entire book can be revised even in the one and half days during exams. Trust me, I know people who have done it.
Surbhi Bansal is fast becoming popular especially among IPCC students. The reason? Her book is crisp and concise which enables atleast around 3 readings very easily. However, there are also those who strongly oppose her book on the ground that it compromises on course coverage. I would like to take a different stand on this. Surbhi Bansal doesn't compromise on course content though it is not a good book for understanding purpose. PCC students who had to do articleship right after CPT would have learnt a lot when they went on audits. It is a different ball game for IPCC students though (those who are from CPT and not converted). Audit is a subject where your practical experience helps you a lot in your studies. So considering this aspect, Surbhi Bansal would be an excellent choice for students who have actually gone on audits since they already have a general idea about various concepts, especially chapters relating to Vouching, Verification, Company Audits, Special Audits and Auditing Standards. However for IPCC students for whom everything is new, Padhuka would be the best available choice.
Regardless of PCC or IPCC stream, I can conclude this in three ways:
1) Study Padhuka thoroughly and have enough patience and determination to read two times more. You don't have to refer anything else.
2) For those who are not able to complete Padhuka even once, they may go for Surbhi Bansal. However, they will have to keep their study material and practise manual besides them to ensure that what they are reading is sufficient.
3) Those who have managed to study Padhuka thoroughly once but are not able to revise it may go for Surbhi Bansal for further readings.
IT & SM:
For SM, study material is the best. No debates. Study Material and Practise Manuals is the best approach.
For IT, the best combo is Dinesh Madan and Practise Manuals. Atleast that's what I am doing. Though many say that study material is the best for IT, I simply don't have the patience to go through such a bulky book, especially when 50 marks are for SM in which I am pretty good. Dinesh Madan is a fantastic book for understanding purpose. The book has loads of grammatical errors but if you can overlook them, this is a really good book. Reading this book with Practise Manual should suffice. Those of you who feel that reading from the study material is a must may do the same. If you want to go for a question answer approach, you can also opt for Padhuka who have used the Institute's language.
As far as Accounting Standards are concerned, both D.S.Rawat and MPV are equally good though I myself have prepared from MPV. This book slightly scores above Rawat as far as understanding purpose is concerned. Otherwise, there's not much to choose between the two.
Well, that's my subject wise analysis. Its a very long read but I hope it proves helpful. Every other day, I see students here posting in forums, asking for guidance in reference books. But it is sad to see that everyone just posts their favourite books without bothering to analyze or give the reasons for the same. It can be really difficult for a novice seeing the names of so many books without actually knowing the pros and cons of different books. My sole purpose in writing this article is that it may help such students to choose their books instead of getting confused and nervous by seeing the names of many books.
Please do not take me in a wrong way. I don't mean to criticize any of you in any manner. But just think for a minute. When someone asks which is the best book for audit, wouldn't it helpful to actually analyse the different books instead of just saying 'Surbhi Bansal is the best' or 'Padhuka rocks.'
Think over it. It will help to improve the quality of this site manifold.