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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.

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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'

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 ( 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.)



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