Jake Austen, editor of Roctober magazine and the recently published Flying Saucers Rock ‘n’ Roll (plus he wrote this week’s B Side cover story), falls up for:

Everything on It by Shel Silverstein

Shel Silverstein’s archives are housed in a west-side warehouse, tended by Silverstein relative (and music writer) Mitch Myers, who oversees posthumous releases, including the best one yet, Everything on It. While there’s not a dud in this bushel of poems and cartoons, it’s fascinating to note the occasional minutely off-key note, meter violation, or so-so punch line that relegated these subversive, absurd works to Silverstein’s reject pile. The weakest pieces here are better than 99.9 percent of contemporary children’s authors’ best work, as no one was better at combining words and inky drawings to convey grotesque excess and poignant melancholy, sometimes simultaneously. Obviously the Chicago native, Playboy contributor, and songwriter (his best lyric a tribute to Chicago’s premier sculptress: “Plaster Casters casting their plasters / Masturbators baiting their masters”) still has some serious impact: at my kids’ school his poems are banned from the speech fair (though I suspect that has more to do with ubiquity than naughtiness).

Emily Schwartz, a 2008 Reader selection for best Chicago playwright,is entertained by:

The Paper Machete

One of the best free afternoons in Chicago can be spent at the Paper Machete (Saturdays at 3 PM, the Horseshoe, 4115 N. Lincoln), a live newsmagazine and podcast now playing through WBEZ. Hosted by local sage Christopher Piatt, the diverse array of guests changes weekly, and attending a taping is a great way to get up close and personal with some of the best talent in Chicago. It’s like a down and dirty version of This American Life, but with beer and friends that you bring along with you. Every time I go I truly feel the pulse of the city I live in. Bring guests from out of town and they’ll think you’re some sort of Windy City guru.

Kellen Alexander, half of comedy group Seth and Kellen, is getting into:

Unbowed by Wangari Maathai

Maathai was a Nobel Peace prize winner from Kenya and Unbowed is a memoir of her life. She’s this amazing woman who started the greenbelt movement in Africa—she paid women in Kenya to plant trees, and in doing so empowered them, helped the environment and combated poverty. It’s totally inspirational for me, since I can’t stop thinking about inequality in America and the destruction of the environment. I find Maathai to be inspirational and motivating. She makes me hopeful that we can solve some of these serious problems.