About Richmond Reads

Richmond Reads Logo

Richmond Reads is a community one-book program designed specifically for the Richmond Memorial Library community. The goal of the program is for the community to join together in reading the chosen title, and then to participate in subsequent discussions and programs.

2022 Program Review Contest Winning Entries

"I was very moved by The Violin Conspiracy. As a music educator, the book sparked a lot of questions and ideas for me, such as, “How can we connect students of color with all genres of music?” and “How can classical music ensembles become more accessible to people of color?” Many times throughout the book, I thought, “it’s 2022, do these explicitly racist events still occur?” Yes, they do, and Brendan Slocumb brought these to the forefront through his writing.

The idea that it only takes one person to believe in you and help you succeed on your journey was also paramount in this novel. Janice’s unwavering guidance and support allowed Ray to fulfill his dreams. Family conflict and an exhilarating mystery made for a relevant and thought-provoking story. Despite countless hardships and systemic racism, Ray always worked twice as hard and stood up for himself, just as his Grandma Nora told him, and now he can do what he truly loves to do. It was an inspirational reminder for me to see how Ray truly connected with the music he was playing and how much it meant to him. I know that this story will stay with me for a long time. "
-Melzie Case-

"To be worthy, to deserve the respect of others, and to be on the right path to accomplish his dream. These are the struggles Ray deals with on a daily basis on his journey to be successful.

Gramma Nora not only gave Ray PopPop’s beloved violin, she gave him the gifts of unconditional love, understanding and precious words of encouragement. Feelings of perjurious and injustice in the social, academic and music world get into Ray’s head and leaves him yearning for acceptance as a solo performer.

After his loss of his priceless Stradivarius, Ray considers giving up his dream of competing in the world renowned Tchaikovsky Competition. Only after the encouragement of Professor Stevens and his girlfriend Nichole and the memory of Gramma Nora’s loving words does Ray compete with his whole heart and soul, believing in himself and his ability to hear and feel his music.

This wonderful novel brought me back to my childhood. I was an eight-year-old girl who loved music. My Dad played the banjo and guitar, and his brother Ted played the violin. I was in love with the beautiful sound of the violin and wanted to learn to play. Uncle Ted had an old second-hand violin and let me take it home to practice and learn. We had no money for lessons, but an after-school program offered by the Grange Hall gave lessons once a week. I will never forget arriving after school so excited for my first lesson. Twenty students were told to line up, bows at your side, violins under your chin. Each child was told one at a time to step forward and state their name. She never asked if we could read music or if we could play our violin. My turn came and I stated my name. The teacher said “Your arms and fingers are too short, you will never be able to play the violin, you are dismissed, next child step forward.” I learned much later that only certain children with the right last names would be allowed into this program. I was so discouraged that I returned my Uncle Ted’s violin and to this day I will always regret not keeping the violin and finding a different path for lessons. How I wish I had had a Gramma Nora to encourage me to “be strong and be myself.”
-Rita Nan Tresco-

Author Brendan Slocumb will visit the library IN PERSON on Thursday, October 20 for a talk and book signing.

2022 Title Reveal Recording
2022 Message from the Author 



Past Selections: 

2019 Selection: Southernmost by Silas House
2020 Selection: Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens
2021 Selection: The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin


Richmond Reads is sponsored by The Friends of Richmond Memorial Library!


About the Title

Ray McMillian loves playing the violin more than anything, and nothing will stop him from pursuing his dream of becoming a professional musician. Not his mother, who thinks he should get a real job, not the fact that he can't afford a high-caliber violin, not the racism inherent in the classical music world. And when he makes the startling discovery that his great-grandfather's fiddle is actually a priceless Stradivarius, his star begins to rise. Then with the international Tchaikovsky Competition...fast approaching, his prized family heirloom is stolen. Ray is determined to get it back. But now his family and the descendants of the man who once enslaved Ray's great-grandfather are each claiming that the violin belongs to them. With the odds stacked against him and the pressure mounting, will Ray ever see his beloved violin again?(from publisher summary)


About the Author

Brendan Nicholaus Slocumb was raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and holds a degree in music education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. For the past twenty-three years, he has been a public and private school music educator from kindergarten through twelfth grade, teaching general music, orchestra and guitar ensembles. In 2005, Brendan was named Teacher of the Year for Robert E. Lee High School; has been named to Who’s Who of American teachers, and is a Nobel Teacher of distinction. Brendan also serves as an educational consultant for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and has performed with orchestras throughout Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC. He is the founder of the nonprofit organization, Hands Across the Sea, based in the Philippines. In his spare time, Brendan enjoys writing, exercising, collecting comic books and action figures, and performing with his rock band, Geppetto's Wüd. He is currently working on his second novel.  (adapted from brendanslocumb.com)


Read the Book

Check out the book from the library in regular print or large print, or borrow it on Libby as an eBook or Audiobook!

Copies can be purchased at the library anytime before the author visit for $20, cash or check made out to Friends of Richmond Memorial Library.

Participate in the events!

Brendan Slocumb will visit the library on Thursday, October 20 at 7 pm!

Book Discussions​
the only requirement to attend the discussion is to read the book! 

Monday, October 3 at 6:30 pm
Wednesday, October 12 at 9 am
Saturday, October 15 at 10 am

Richmond Reads Reel Discussion
Join us on Thursday, October 6 at 6:30 pm for a screening and discussion of the PBS documentary Violin Masters:Two Gentlemen of Cremona

No registration is required unless noted.




Support the Program

Richmond Reads is an independent initiative of Richmond Memorial Library and sponsored by the Friends of Richmond Memorial Library.  We welcome all support of the program.  Should you wish to contribute financially, forms are available at the front desk or at the reference desk.

Attend the Author Visit

Brendan Slocumb will visit RML in person on Thursday, October 20 at 7 pm!


Contact Samantha Stryker Basile, Adult & Community Services Librarian at sstryker@nioga.org or at 585-343-9550 x8.

Ways to Connect
Richmond Reads Committee

Sue Briggs
Sue Chiddy
Leslie DeLooze
Cynthia Hagelberger
Irene Hickey
Judy Sikora
Samantha Stryker Basile, Program Coordinator