Books | July 31, 2021 6:30 am

Looking Back at the Time Dan Brown Wrote a Dating Advice Book

No historical conspiracies in this one

Dan Brown
Novelist Dan Brown presents onstage the Portuguese edition of "Origin", his last book, at Centro Cultural de Belem on October 15, 2017 in Lisbon, Portugal.
Corbis via Getty Images

When you think of Dan Brown’s name, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? It’s likely his status as the author of a host of best-selling thrillers, many of which have been adapted for the big screen. A streaming adaptation of his novel The Lost Symbol is also in the works, with a trailer released earlier this year. Brown has also made a foray into songwriting, designed to accompany a book he wrote for younger readers.

There’s another element of Brown’s oeuvre, though, and it’s one that’s received far less attention than the rest. An article by Caity Weaver at The New York Times ventures into the history of the 1995 book 187 Men to Avoid: A Survival Guide for the Romantically Frustrated Woman, which Weaver describes as “a tongue-in-cheek dating guide.”

The author was originally credited as Danielle Brown, though Weaver notes that a 2006 reprint offers some clarification as to the author’s identity: “Dan Brown Formerly Writing As Danielle Brown.” This followed the runaway success of Brown’s The Da Vinci Code; the design of the updated edition reflected this.

As the Times article points out, the history of 187 Men to Avoid gets even more complex than one might expect. Some of this has to do with the authorship of the book — one biography contends that the advice book was a collaboration between Dan Brown and Blythe Brown, written before they married and subsequently divorced. There’s also the matter of data errors further complicating matters — the article details one filmmaker’s quest to buy a used copy of it, only to keep receiving the wrong book in the mail.

It’s a surreal footnote that certainly showcases a different side of Brown’s bibliography — and offers a glimpse of what he was up to before he was a household name.