Monitor Picks

Five things we think you'll like, including U2 in 3-D, an alternative to talk radio, and a novel of intrigue inside Thailand's jungles.

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Jungle Fever

By the time you reach Page 15 of Fieldwork your hands may as well be handcuffed to the book. Mischa Berlinski's debut novel – in paperback Jan. 22 – is an anthropological odyssey that reaches back several decades as Christian missionaries plunge into encrusted jungles in Thailand where not even sunshine dares intrude. The final revelation is a gut-puncher.

Don't idle!

Recommended: Vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free? Six new cookbooks.

Last Tuesday, it started again: the glitz, the glamour, the dull roar of shattered expectations. But at a time when the writers' strike still rages, the new season of "American Idol" is expected to draw an unprecedented number of viewers. How will you keep track of all the noise? For starters, try logging on to the comprehensive news site, Idol Mania (http://idol-mania.com/american-idol-fan/). Unlike the majority of "Idol" contestants, it's rarely out of tune.

Recipe for successful eating

Vegetarian cooking may be the oldest new food trend for 2008. Even devoted carnivore Mark Bittman, the New York Times food writer, has weighed in with a vegetarian cookbook – making the time especially ripe for a new edition of a classic. Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, celebrating its 10th anniversary with more than 325,000 copies in print, remains the definitive bible of vegetarian cooking and author Deborah Madison its undisputed doyenne.

New dimension for U2

At IMAX's U2-3D, you, too, can experience a U2 concert where you feel close enough to see your reflection in the gleam of Bono's shades. Actually, it's Bono who'll be reflected in your 3-D specs. The 85-minute concert, released to IMAX theaters Jan. 23, compiles 14 career-spanning songs from several shows in South America. We won't claim the film is even better than the real thing, but it's pretty darn close.

Web talk

Talk Radio no longer narrowly confined to radio stations? Or celebrity hosts? Blogtalkradio.com lets anyone with a phone and a computer make their voice heard. The offerings range from politics and entertainment to spirituality and golf. Currently popular with the younger set: a weekly children's show called "The Adventures of the House Fairy" with a host who resembles Dame Edna.

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