Saint Louis University

The 2013 first-year students have read the book Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle, S.J., as one of their first academic experiences at Saint Louis University. The first-year summer reading book for the 2013-2014 academic year was chosen by a committee, comprised of faculty, staff and students.

Boyle will speak at SLU at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 11, in the Wool Ballroom in Busch Student Center. A book signing will follow. All first-year students are encouraged to attend.

The first-year summer reading program outcomes include providing a shared intellectual experience that prepares incoming students to engage in discussion on various levels on an ongoing basis, addressing questions and life issues being faced by incoming students, either implicitly or explicitly introducing students to academic life and the uniqueness of Jesuit higher education, reflective of the mission of Saint Louis University, and providing opportunities for incoming students to dialogue with each other, and faculty and staff on campus.

Students receive the book during SLU 101 summer orientation, and are asked to read the book over the summer prior to Fall Welcome. During Fall Welcome they participate in a program around the theme of the book and they also have the opportunity to interact in small group discussions led by faculty and staff of the University to dialogue about the reading. A call for faculty and staff discussion leaders for 2014 will be announced later during the spring and again in the summer.

Learn more about the program at the First-Year Summer Reading Program website

About the Book

As a pastor working in a neighborhood with the highest concentration of murderous gang activity in Los Angeles, Gregory Boyle created an organization to provide jobs, job training and encouragement so that young people could work together and learn the mutual respect that comes from collaboration. Tattoos on the Heart is a breathtaking series of parables distilled from his twenty years in the barrio. Arranged by theme and filled with sparkling humor and glowing generosity, these essays offer a stirring look at how full readers lives could be if they could find the joy in loving others and in being loved unconditionally.

From giant, tattooed Cesar, shopping at JCPenney fresh out of prison, readers learn how to feel worthy of God's love. From ten-year-old Lula, readers learn the importance of being known and acknowledged. From Pedro, readers understand the kind of patience necessary to rescue someone from the darkness. In each chapter, readers benefit from Boyle's wonderful, hard-earned wisdom. Inspired by faith, but applicable to anyone trying to be good, these personal, unflinching stories are full of surprising revelations and observations of the community in which Boyle works and of the many lives he has helped save.

Erudite, down-to-earth, and utterly heartening, these essays about universal kinship and redemption are moving examples of the power of unconditional love in difficult times and the importance of fighting despair. With Boyle's guidance, everyone can recognize their own wounds in the broken lives and daunting struggles of the men and women in these parables and learn to find joy in all of the people around us. Tattoos on the Heart reminds readers that no life is less valuable than another.

Winner of the 2011 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Creative Nonfiction

About the Author

Gregory Boyle, S.J., was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1982. He received his master's of divinity from the Weston School of Theology and a sacred theology master's degree from the Jesuit School of Theology. In 1988, Boyle began what would become Homeboy Industries, now located in downtown Los Angeles. Boyle received the California Peace Prize; the "Humanitarian of the Year" Award from Bon Appétit; the Caring Institute's 2007 Most Caring People Award; and received the 2008 Civic Medal of Honor from the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.

Recommend a Book for 2015

Any individual has the opportunity to submit a book recommendation for consideration for the first-year summer reading text choice. All recommendations will be reviewed by a committee focused on the 2015 book selection process. The 2014 First-Year Summer Reading has already been selected and will be announced later in the fall semester.

The committee, made up of faculty, students and staff, will review book recommendations that meet the stated goals. Additional student feedback will be utilized once the committee narrows down the recommendations to the final selection of books being reviewed. The committee will then read all the books under final consideration and submit a final recommendation of the top book to the Vice President for Academic Affairs for approval.

Key book considerations:

  • Considerably short (less than 300 pages, if possible)
  • Interesting to students as a summer reading
  • Relevant topics for incoming students
  • Potential for integration in other areas of the curriculum
  • Cost efficient for the program (less than $15/book)

Any genre (including fiction and non-fiction) are open to consideration. The book should not be discipline specific and should reach a general audience. Book Recommendations may be submitted online and are due by Friday, Oct. 18. For additional questions, contact Greg Lucsko at glucsko@slu.edu.