Captain Dylan Conway turned to books to keep his mental health in check after facing the confronting possibility of being permanently immobilised at 26 years old.
Following 14 months in hospital and a total of eight surgeries on his back due to an injury, the Army Officer at 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR), revealed that it was confronting to have to think about a future that could mean he will not be able to walk again.
"Being quite an active guy before the injury, I wanted to continue progressing with my life but I was unable to do the stuff I was able to do before, so I started reading books," CAPT Conway said.
"Through reading, I found stories where other people had gone through hardship and overcame it.
"I started Brothers N' Books to connect other people who were going through a hard-time with books that made them feel less alone and provided them with the perspective to overcome their hardship."
After reading over 100 books while bedridden in recovery on topics ranging from self-development, recounts of combat operations and philosophy, to stories of perseverance in times of extreme hardship, CAPT Conway launched Brothers N' Books through Instagram in November 2020.
The Brothers N' Books community has grown to over 6,000 active followers on social media in just eight months, which has enabled CAPT Conway to give back to the community and share his passion for reading by launching Brothers N' Books Libraries.
"It's great to see how fast it is growing," he said.
"Since I've started the [Brothers N' Books] Instagram page, its great to see more of the younger generation reading and getting involved.
"The community is made up of a close knit community of veterans, first responders, including people who have gone through turmoil and trauma."
After CAPT Conway made it his mission to promote reading as a mechanism to increase positive mental health, the first Brothers N' Books Library was established at the new Townsville Veterans Transition Centre, which was opened by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in June.
Motivated by the rapid momentum behind the expanding Brothers N' Books community, CAPT Conway is now making an impact in supporting veterans' families by raising money for Legacy Australia with the 5 in 50 Challenge readathon.
"Brothers N' Books will be running the 5 books in 50 days challenge, people can jump onto the Instagram page and follow along with some veteran authors that will be promoting it," CAPT Conway added.
"All the money raised will be going to Legacy Australia, in support of a great charity.
"My mission is to make reading cool and inspire people to read so they can reach their full potential."
Find out about the Brothers N' Books 5 in 50 Challenge here.
Journalist – Defence and Security, Momentum Media
Nastasha is a Journalist at Momentum Media, she reports extensively across veterans issues, cyber security and geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific. Previously, she was a Content Producer at Verizon Media, a Digital Producer for Yahoo! 7 and Channel 7, a Digital Journalist at Sky News Australia, as well as a Website Manager and Digital Producer at SBS Australia. She started her career in media as a Video Producer and Digital News Presenter at News Corp Australia.