Six Picks: Recommendations from the Monitor staff

P.D James's latest mystery, Space Station spotting from your backyard, 'Traveling Pants 2' on DVD, and more.

If the pants fit…

The premise is kooky (a pair of jeans that fit four girls – all different sizes – perfectly). But The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (now on DVD) is really about friendship. Lena, Carmen, Bridget, and Tibby are apart for the summer but stay connected by mailing the pants to each other. What they must figure out, to paraphrase Carmen, is how to "become" themselves without losing each other. And she, for one, realizes that no one can diminish you but yourself.

'Spring dresses for stout women'

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

Not the most appealing ad copy, but the page from the Sears, Roebuck and Co. 1922 catalog is just one of a fascinating collection in Catalog: The Illustrated History of Mail-Order Shopping. Tracing America's catalog craze back to its start in 1872, the book (Princeton Architectural Press, $35) offers an overview of shifting tastes, technological leaps, and such scary trends as shag carpeting and python-print undershirts (both from the 1970s).

Star bright, satellite?

If you want to know when the International Space Station – or things like meteor showers – will be over your backyard, sign up for Spaceweather Phone (http://spaceweatherphone.com/). For $6.95 a month, you'll receive a call, along with an e-mail, telling you what you can see, and where and when to look. (Telescopes are optional.)

POTENT CURE

With his black clothing and raccoon eyeliner, The Cure's Robert Smith has always been one for moping. But on the band's latest album, 4:13 Dream, Smith rediscovers an effervescent joy – and melodic pop missing on recent releases. The hurricane swirls of guitar also mark the return of original band member Porl Thompson on what is easily The Cure's best album since 1992's "Wish."

NEVER AGAIN, AGAIN

Genocide is a difficult topic for civilized nations to confront. Not even a recognized concept before the 20th century, the word was coined by a Polish refugee in the shadow of the Holocaust. Enshrined in 1948 in the Genocide Convention, the hope was that it would never happen again, but as CNN's Christiane Amanpour's documentary Scream Bloody Murder, (Dec. 4, 9 p.m.), makes painfully clear, ruthless genocidal killing continues to this day.

The English 'Patient'

Rhoda Gradwyn signs up for plastic surgery to have a disfiguring scar – the result of abuse when she was 13 – removed. When asked "why now?" the middle-aged journalist replies: "Because I have no further need of it." The decision ends up leading to her murder: The night after the surgery she's strangled at the exclusive private clinic. P.D. James's latest novel, the 14th Adam Dalgliesh mystery, finds the baroness in a rather Christie-an mood: The Private Patient is an English country manor mystery replete with the red herrings and complexity James's readers have come to expect. The happy endings, however, may surprise.

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