This true story was written by two Bookshare volunteers, Evan Reese and Lissi Deren.
She was a proofreader in Ohio who saw a new Welsh name, Evan Reese, on the Bookshare volunteer list. His messages were articulate, optimistic, technically sound, sometimes funny, and always courteous. He was a scanner who saw happy messages from Lissi, noticed she loved animals, and better yet, she was a fan of The Lord of the Rings, proofreading a book, One Ring to Bind Them All. On May 20, 2006, he emailed her off list asking her to hurry because he wanted to read it. Ten days later the book was added to the collection and they’d agreed to tackle Tolkien’s 12 volume history of Middle Earth together.
It was all work between them, figuring out how to prepare accented elvish and format footnotes until the day he wrote, “Not to get too personal, but I really like ketchup,” and she impulsively bought a half gallon bottle of Ketchup at Super K-Mart. A week after one of his best friends died, feeling lonely, and bolstered by how well they worked together and their mutual interest in Bookshare and Tolkien, he impulsively called her. They talked and talked. They exchanged more and longer phone calls and emails. One night they listened to the Fellowship of the Ring movie on the phone until 4 in the morning.
By October, he declared he loved her. She was ecstatic but fearful he was too good to be true. He began a campaign, sending love letters, love songs, and reassurance. She said that he had the persistence of a used car salesman, but he finally won her shy permission to fly to Ohio to meet. They became a couple but were so discreet that it was over a year later before a canny volunteer noticed some of Evan’s messages were sent from Lissi’s email address and speculated a Bookshare romance was in progress.
He moved to Pennsylvania to be closer to her. By then they were collaborating on projects to add more books appealing to young boys, holiday books, books about Ireland, Scotland and Wales, mysteries, and science fiction. They worked on projects with many other Bookshare volunteers at the same time.
They live together in Ohio now with two cute, affectionate, house dogs. They download regularly from Bookshare’s exploding collection to their various braille and listening devices. Though they’ve contributed over 1,250 books to the collection, his scans exceed the standard for accuracy; she proofreads every word, and they both double check everything. Jim Fruchterman is their hero, and they treasure their friends among Bookshare’s staff and volunteers.
Without having to do an advanced search in the romance section to read it, you have our story, one that wouldn’t have begun if Bookshare hadn’t welcomed our volunteer contribution and given us an email list, a means of pooling talent and helping one another. We have many reasons to be grateful to Bookshare, most important of which is that it brought us together. As Bookshare continues to evolve, serving up more books in more diverse ways, our romance grows too, no doubt to reach new heights on Valentine’s Day.
Wishing happy reading and full hearts to our Booksharian friends,
Evan and Lissi