Who has the time to read these days?

It could be you. In recent weeks, mega-bestselling author James Patterson has begun an initiative called “BookShots.” These BookShots, written by Patterson and various collaborators, are self-contained thriller and romance books that clock in at less than 150 pages, and sell for less than five dollars. These books are advertised as if you are reading a movie, and they are meant to be devoured in a matter of hours. Patterson, a long-time supporter of libraries and literacy, has said that a big goal of the BookShots program is to get people reading who aren’t usually readers. People are often too busy, he argues, to sit down with a 400-page tome. They have jobs, and school, and soccer practice, and any number of other commitments through their day.

Here at the Kirkwood Library, we understand. Some of us are too busy to find the time to read, and we’re surrounded by books! Luckily, there are plenty of short novels out there, with or without the James Patterson name. Here are five thrillers, each less than 200 pages, that you can find right here in the Kirkwood Public Library. Each one moves forward at a breakneck pace, and won’t eat up your entire day. Stop by and pick one up!

Drive by James Sallis; 158 pages. A fast paced, twisting narrative with the appropriately named “Driver” at the wheel, this thrilling neo-noir tells the story of a man who works as a stunt driver by day and a getaway driver by night. Now a feature film starring Ryan Gosling!

Nobody Move by Denis Johnson; 196 pages. Jimmy Luntz is in a barbershop chorus. Jimmy Luntz is not a bad man. Jimmy Luntz owes a bad man a lot of money. When the bad men come to collect, violence ensues. Jimmy ends up on the run with acoholic femme fatale Anita Desilvera, and finds himself planning a heist that may just save his skin. More violence ensues.

The Highwayman by Craig Johnson; 190 pages. Part of the hit Longmire detective/western series, now a television show on Netflix, this adventure sees Sheriff Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear up against a legendary criminal, The Highwayman. Good for fans of the show, fans of mystery, or fans of westerns, and slim enough to bring along in your saddlebag.

Blockade Billy by Stephen King; 112 pages. Stephen King hits a homerun with this eerie baseball thriller. Written in only two weeks, this little book can be finished in almost two hours, but King’s love of the game of baseball (and scaring the bejeesus out of us) is on full display here.

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming; 181 pages.  Six actors have played him in 27 different films. You know his name; you probably know his favorite drink. Now, go back to where it all began with the story that first introduced us to Bond, James Bond. Be ready though, this is not a campy, Roger Moore Bond. The original Bond is as cold and harsh as his favored martinis, and this adventure, which finds Bond in a high stakes card game with the villainous Le Chiffre, is still a top-notch spy story.

So there you go; five novels that you can finish in a couple of lunch breaks. If you know of more great short books, let us know!

Nathan Elwood is an IT & Reference Assistant for the Kirkwood Public Library. He has been with the library since May, 2016. He enjoys reading comics, hiking, and travel. His favorite authors include Jeff Vandermeer, China Mieville, and Laurie R. King.