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Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family
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Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  2,008 ratings  ·  363 reviews
A delicious memoir from the author of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry

In this family history interwoven with recipes, Kathleen Flinn returns readers to the mix of food and memoir beloved by readers of her bestselling The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry. Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good explores the very beginnings of her love affair with food and its connection
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 14th 2014 by Viking
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  2,008 ratings  ·  363 reviews

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Aug 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: mmd, non-fiction, memoir
Kathleen Flinn takes us through her life-- filled with laughable moments, food, family, and unforgettable memories. Tackling a food memoir for a challenge was outside my comfort zone, but this one was great to listen to on audio. I also picked up the book to follow along and it was filled with recipes from her childhood, and pictures to boot. Burnt Toast makes you sing good was something Kathleen's Grandma used to tell her, and she actually CAN sing good. Many of these stories reminded me of my ...more
Bob Schnell
Advanced reading copy review Due for publication August 2014

I'm a little embarrassed to admit how much this cynical New Yorker loved this "Little House in post-war Michigan" memoir of family and food. I laughed, I cried, I got very hungry.

Kathleen Flinn takes us from stories of her grand-parents in the Depression to her own tween years in the 1970's. Along the way are typically American stories of a family willing to take some risks, have some adventures and, come what may, find joy in simple th
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is certainly an entertaining "food memoir" in the same general vein as Jean Shepherd's writings on small town Indiana. In this case, the author delves into her scrappy Irish/Swedish family history dating back to the 19th century, including many of the recipes she grew up with.

It also illustrates that while American food was never exactly the healthiest (most of the recipes included contain a lot of butter), people generally stayed away from processed fast food until the 1960s. The reason th
Ellen Pilch
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I won this book on Goodreads and it is definitely a good read. The youngest child in the family writes about growing up without a lot of money, but with lots of love and food. Reading this has made me realize what is wrong with the world today. Most people sign their kids up for every sport and activity instead of actually spending time with them. These people didn't have money, but they were there for their kids.
My only complaint was reading about killing chickens and deer hunting. Iget the id
Nerisa  Eugenia Waterman
Aug 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This memoir is as mouthwatering and finger licking, as it is heartwarming and funny. This book will make you laugh, and it will make you cry, but most importantly it will give you courage to fight any obstacles in your life.
I couldn’t put this book down, it was like a walking down memory lane….from my first slice of pizza to my first TV dinner. Although, I am an island girl at heart, I can definitely identify with many of the characters throughout the various stages of my own life. I was left wi
What I loved so deeply about Flinn's newest memoir, is that it really speaks to this idea of food being a catalyst for storytelling. I envision using this book as a mentor text with my students to get them thinking about telling their own family stories. They could bring in a family recipe and not just talk about the dish, but also the story behind it, because truly, all family recipes have a story. And each chapter of this book is Flinn doing just that: taking family recipe and sharing its stor ...more
I went to Kathleen Flinn's publication day reading at Third Place Books, bought the book and got it signed.

This is a delightful book, filled with tales of Flinn's family, lovingly told. The stories were alternately sweet, funny and at times sad (I shed a few tears over a couple). I love the photos and the recipes, too. Incidentally, Kathleen Flinn brought a pot of chili (her grandfather's recipe) to her reading, and it was delicious!
Kelly W
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Kathleen Flinn had it rough growing up, but she strikes me as the type that made lemonade when life handed her lemons. I mean that in the most admirable sense. Her family worked hard, honored their debts, grew a big garden for a lot of their food and even took in an orphaned cousin. I know people like this. The descriptions, stories and recipes rang true. Hand-me-downs and big pots of beans were the norm. Her parents raised good citizens and lavished their kids with love. Hunting and fishing of ...more
Jun 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
In a departure from Flinn's previous books, this is more of a family history than a memoir. Most of the stories she tells are secondhand (or thirdhand) -- she was the baby of the family, an accident, and some of the best stories are ones that she wouldn't remember or hadn't been alive for.

This was not, I think, an exceptional family -- by which I mean simply that Flinn's experience, and her family's, was not outside what we might expect in the midwest in the time period she describes. I'm remind
Leslie Jenison
Sep 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have been a fan of Kathleen Flinn since reading her first book, "The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry". I have gifted numerous aspiring cooks with her second book, "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School", as it contains a wealth of information for cooks of all skill levels and it addresses a common and growing issue: the decline of cooking fresh food (which I hope is beginning to change for the better).
This is the story of family, hardship and triumph, and it is all woven together with tales
Lucy Burdette
Aug 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Though I very much admired Flinn's book about the French culinary institute, I wondered how she could fill a book with reminiscences about her Michigan family and hold the reader's interest. I was wrong to doubt--the memoir is delightful. Her stories brim with the resilience and optimism that her family showed as they struggled to reach for the American dream. Foodies will enjoy this, but so will the non-food obsessed. The recipes are just a bonus! ...more
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A beautiful memoir of her family. The comfort foods that sustained her ancestors and relatives through celebrations and grief. So many awesome recipes to try too. So full of midwestern charm, it felt like she was my cousin talking about my family.
Jul 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting family history, with some pretty impressive people. There are some good looking recipes included that tie into the theme of each chapter. The author writes about her family years before she came along. The memoir really starts to feel more personal once she is able to write about her own experiences; I guess that's obvious.

But - "unthaw"? Well, according to Merriam Webster, the usage is correct but... just no.

The author also wrote, which ha
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
We all know that there is such a thing as Comfort Food, but there is also Comfort Reading--those books that feel like a hug and restore your faith in everyday people. Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good gives you both Comfort Food AND Comfort Reading!

The Flinn family is a typical mid-Century, mid-American family. There are now celebrities in this family and the only one that crosses this family's path is Michael Moore in his younger years. They aren't the saccharine kind of family that you might fin
Kim Ambler
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
If you have never read anything by Kathleen Flinn, you're really missing out! She is quite the master of the memoir. She has taken her fairly ordinary life and written not one, but three, rich, compelling books about it. Because cooking is such a part of who she is, each book contains some great recipes for the foods she has discussed. The recipes are a treat, and definitely an added bonus.

This book tells of Flinn's family history, weaving a tale of three generations. The family is, in many ways
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Thank you Goodreads for this advanced copy. I could relate to everything about this book in some way... growing up in Michigan, family life and folklore and even young Kathleen. Even though her family life was different than mine, I could picture every part so clearly in my minds eye. Flinn has a talent for humor, story telling and making your mouth water waiting for the next recipe in the book. I enjoyed the book cover to cover. At the end of the book young Kathleen reads "A Tree Grows In Brook ...more
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I adore Kathleen Flinn's writing. This is definitely a food memoir which I love reading, but it's more than that. When I hear memoir, I think life story, which makes me worry that it'll be all self involved and annoying. In Burnt Toast..., Ms Flinn writes about her family, growing up, and how food wove into everything. I love to cook and am a little food obsessed and I felt like I had found a home. I would highly recommend this book to any foodies. You'll be drawn to the people's personalities a ...more
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This followed a similar vein of other food/coming of age memoirs (Ruth Reichl, Molly Wizenberg etc) but I definitely liked this more than those. Her humble origins and those of her parents and grandparents were so much more interesting to me. Stories of hardworking, selfless people who really loved one another and had their priorities in order made this edifying and the food portions didn't feel pretentious or forced but fit in so naturally. ...more
Apr 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

Nostalgia, memory lane, Americana, 'good ole days'...I so enjoyed reading this memoir. This author has a penchant for telling stories. The book was peppered throughout with pictures and family recipes. Great read!
Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story! Kathleen Flinn is such a wonderful story teller! I loved the story of her childhood and family. So heart warming and wonderful and sad.
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Kathleen starts by telling about her parents’ and grandparents’ history. They had many adventures, including starting their own restaurant out in California. Many of her ancestors were spunky, a trait that passed along to Kathleen, her sister, and three brothers. Her mom said, “If you say you believe that life should be full of adventures, then you have to be willing to let your kids have them, too.” I like that, and am trying to live it out with my own kids.

I enjoyed the tales about the ancesto
Jen W
I really enjoyed this memoir. It incorporated stories of family, love, loss and struggles. Each chapter (story) discussed a food that represented the family memory and ended with a recipe. I thought this was a great touch (the index of recipes in the back of the book will be handy too). Chapters were short and to the point, and the family tree in the front of the book was quite helpful.

I am definitely interested in reading Kathleen Flinn’s book about her experiences at Cordon Blue.
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A good memoir for anyone who likes food or is a fellow Michigander.
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved it! Now I know what makes Kathleen Flinn tick. My favorite quote; "You can't give anything away; it always comes back to you." ...more
Kati Polodna
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved this. Totally cried at the end. A love story about the Midwest and family.
Annie Carrott Smith
Really - what could be better than reading a delightful story of a large Michigan family that is also filled with comfort food recipes? This family’s history is told through the youngest daughter’s eyes. Very entertaining!
Deb Booth
Jan 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful! Funny, warm, and totally engaging memoir - making me very glad I live in THIS day and age, but remembering fondly when I was young. Many laugh out loud moments - highly recommend.
Sep 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Reading is an utter activity of joy for me! It has been since I was a little girl. No one book is the same and readers’ responses to the very same book will not be the same either. For good cause too; reading is personal. Every story will tweak something different within each reader based upon the reader’s family history, personal struggles, lessons learned, current challenges, and dreams of the heart. I love reading! Did I mention that yet? I approach every single book with great excitement, es ...more
Erin Host Hisaw
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Food memoirs get me EV.ERY.TIME.

Really liked this book.
It’s no Ruth Reichl, but it was GOOD.
The Book Maven
Food writer and journalist Kathleen Flinn has gone many places, and tasted many things…but I daresay that she’s managed to stay true to her Midwestern roots. Those roots break through and flourish in this enormously appetizing memoir of her family’s background and her own childhood in Michigan. Each anecdote she offers has food centered at the heart or on the periphery of the story, and each chapter ends with a recipe of the main food mentioned. The recipes sound both solidly Midwestern and tant ...more
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Kathleen Flinn is the author of The New York Times bestseller The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, a memoir with recipes about her experiences at the famed Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

Her second book, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, tells the story of an unusual project in which Flinn delved into the lives of nine culinary novices and tried to figure out what lessons they could learn to beco

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