Common Read

Acts of Faith cover

2020 Common Read:
Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation by Eboo Patel

The purpose of the Common Read is to introduce new students to topics of equity and inclusion that can be integrated in their social and academic life. The program provides a common experience for all new students while strengthening a sense of belonging from their first days on campus, and it engages students in intentional ways of thinking across disciplines, experiences, and strengths.

The Common Read for Fall 2020 is Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation by Eboo Patel, a coming-of-age story about an Indian-born Muslim immigrant’s search for identity and development of an interfaith youth movement focused on building bridges across forms of difference that too-often divide.

More on Acts of Faith and author Eboo Patel:

Eboo Patel is the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC). The book addresses racism, bullying, immigration, and building up the next generation of young people to bring about a more just and compassionate world. Patel explores growing up a racial/ethnic/religious minority in a primarily white Midwestern suburb, becoming radicalized in college around issues of race and class, negotiating romantic relationships across racial and religious difference, and envisioning and working for a world where young people are mentored into compassion, service, and activism. Reading and discussing Patel’s book will help advance St. Olaf’s vision of equity and inclusion, particularly our commitment to “uplift and engage in mutual education about our diversity—such as race, religion and faith tradition, background and circumstance.”

Eboo’s Visit, October 29-30, 2020:

As part of the Common Read experience, Eboo Patel was slated to spend October 29-30, 2020, on campus engaging with the community around issues raised in his book and the work he does as a national interfaith leader. Due to the pandemic, Patel’s visit will now be virtual and will offer multiple opportunities for new students and all members of the community to interact with Patel about how the issues he raises in his book relate to our lives together on the Hill and beyond. 

Reading Guide

Acts of Faith Reading Guide

Past Common Reads:

2019: The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia YangCover of the Latehomcomer


Note to New Students:

This year we are also expanding the opportunity to read and discuss Acts of Faith with the St. Olaf All-Community Read program. Through the All-Community Read, returning St. Olaf students, as well as faculty, staff, and alumni, will be joining all of you in reading and reflecting on Acts of Faith.