As a very active person, spending 14 months bed-ridden after surgery was the most challenging time of Captain Dylan Conway’s life.
But the experience had a silver lining, inspiring the officer from the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR), to help others through books.
As a means of keeping his mind occupied, Captain Conway read more than 100 books on self-development, from recounts of combat operations and philosophy to stories of perseverance in times of extreme hardship.
As his interest in literature grew, Captain Conway started the Brothers n’ Books initiative on Instagram, where other Defence personnel, first responders, or anyone who had faced adversity could tell their story and recommend books that helped them.
In a short time, the account grew to about 3000 followers and gained the attention of several Australian authors.
Captain Conway received donations of books for people in need, as well as Defence personnel about to deploy.
“Brothers n’ Books aims to make reading an accepted method of overcoming adversity, providing perspective, which is the single greatest thing you can do to develop yourself,” Captain Conway said.
“The same way that diet, working out and socialising assist in living a happy, healthy life, reading books can also contribute to your overall wellness and health.
“A lot of people's struggles aren't visible to the naked eye, but ensuring life-changing books are accessible to provide perspective and advice is the least we can do to give back to the organisation.
“Brothers n’ Books aims to donate books to those people in need.”
Captain Conway said he has received overwhelming support for his initiative from Defence members, past and present, and the broader community.
“The reaction to the Instagram page has been incredibly positive with so many inspiring people from all walks of life contributing stories, showing we all go through trauma, stress and hardship,” he said.
Captain Conway said he wanted the initiative to continue to grow.
“Brothers n’ Books aims to be a one-stop-shop for book recommendations for junior ADF soldiers and leaders, similar to how The Cove provides excellent conversation points for officers and senior soldiers,” he said.
“Books provide ADF members a chance to find their passion, purpose and provoke innovative ideas to help the organisation continue to develop as a community and become stronger as a team.
“With the right education, advice and mentality, we can all make it through life’s challenges.”