Toinette Lippe was born in London where she began a career in publishing at Andre Deutsch. In 1964, she came to New York City to work at Simon & Schuster. Lippe then spent 32 years at Alfred A. Knopf as reprint rights director and editor. In 1989, she established Bell Tower, a spiritual imprint that is now part of Harmony Books. Under her leadership, Bell Tower released 53 books.
Elders in indigenous societies reach a certain point in their lives when they want to pass on the wisdom they have accrued over the years. To do this, they travel down memory lane and share their experiences with others. Early on in this philosophical memoir, Lippe notes: "I have been mulling over the word content. I find it wonderful that it means both 'that which is contained' and also 'being satisfied.' Both meanings come from the past participle of the Latin verb continere. Contentment is a peaceful and unruffled state, but nowadays it is all too rare."
Contentment is not widespread in this culture because so many people are caught up in consumerism. They can never get enough. They always desire something more, better, or different. Lippe believes "less is enough." Of course, such an attitude in America is blasphemous. Equally scandalous in mainstream culture is her contention that attachment to our possessions is not a good thing. To clarify her positions, Lippe gives us her ideas, derived from her experiences, about living a life of simplicity.
The author shares stories about practicing attention as an antidote to distraction, traveling light, being present, saying no, not allowing supply to exceed demand, letting go of what is unnecessary, and being industrious and generous. We were especially impressed with her habit of surrendering her New York apartment to a friend whenever she leaves town. Serving others can be a pleasure and is an essential ingredient of contentment.
Read Nothing Left Over slowly in a quiet place. Let it lead you to do some interior housekeeping. Live with those changes for a while, and then return to the book for another gentle suggestion, and then another, about what it really means to be contained and satisfied.