Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

As “Scandal” careens toward its season finale Thursday, I can’t help wondering along with Olivia Pope what her life would be if she’d hopped on the plane to oblivion that Papa Pope offered. What would the gladiator who has so much to lose–a fierce wardrobe, challenging career and the leader of the free world–have done if she went on the lam?

Well… read, of course! Surely, she could have used some book therapy after rigging elections, taming assassins and wearing the white (now grayish black) hat. I know Liv likes her wine, but only a strong cocktail of self-help with a splash of fiction could fix this.

My nonfiction picks for Olivia’s reading list? Consider them handled. First up, “Women Who Love Too Much: When You Keep Hoping and Wishing He’ll Change” by Robin Norwood is the best place to start getting the “O” out of Olitz, Olake…oh, whoever.

Pope could use some serious me time, and this classic relationship tome might provide the straight-talk she needs to leave the killers (Jake)–or at least the married killers (Fitz)–behind her.

Dubious Distinction: Olivia Aces the “Women Who Love Too Much” Quiz

  • Do you find yourself attracted again and again to troubled, distant, moody men — while “nice guys” seem boring? Yes!

  • Do you obsess over men who are emotionally unavailable, addicted to work, hobbies, alcohol, or other women? Yes!

  • Do you neglect your friends and your own interests to be immediately available to him? Yes!

  • Do you feel empty without him, even though being with him is torment? Yes!

Once she’s well-grounded in the relationship truths her terrorist mother never taught her, Liv needs some Eckhart Tolle in her life. I recommend “Practicing the Power of Now: Essential Teaching, Meditations, and Exercises from the Power of Now.”  From what I’ve seen of Pope, she hasn’t the patience for some of his more philosophical tracts. But his executive summary of “The Power of Now” may just do the trick. Her past life showed glimpses of the book’s central premise that all problems are illusions of the mind and that accepting the here and now is the only path forward.

Once she’s relatively centered, it’s time for “The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery.” The poignant and insightful writing of author Sarah Lewis could help Pope mount a comeback. I think the author’s intelligence, sophistication and appreciation for the art in adversity would resonate with Pope. Were Pope more than a figment of Shonda Rhimes’s imagination, I think Lewis and the fixer could be besties–peers in intellect and fashion.

Admittedly, the fiction picks have me stumped. I can’t recommend Roxane Gray’s “An Untamed State” to Pope because: Daddy Issues. The new novel’s interracial relationship and cold-hearted father might hit too close to home. Maybe “Boy, Snow, Bird” by Helen Oyeyemi would be fitting, given Pope’s penchant for fairy tales. Looking at the vagaries of race, politics and identity through Oyeyemi’s lens might have provided a welcome escape from White House and Wonderland withdrawal.

But, alas, Neo (I mean Olivia) chose the red pill, and I’ll be watching Thursday to see just how far the rabbit hole goes. The book selections, for now–at least for Liv, are moot.

If Liv gets a second chance at leaving the Wonderland/White House crazy behind, what books could aid her recovery? Post your picks below or on Twitter with the #booksforliv hashtag so I can find you.