The potential for future strife, in my view, involves maximizing acquisition and application of knowledge. We will see both institutionally (nations, businesses, enterprises) and individually a chasm grow between those who can readily use knowledge and those who cannot. That strife will be both internecine and international. We need to stop teaching people irrelevant content which can be acquired in seconds when needed, and start teaching them how to learn, so that knowledge acquisition is natural and lifelong. — Alan Weiss

My students at Lincoln Christian University are winding down the fall semester. Like students at schools all over the country, they’ll have about four weeks of vacation before the spring semester begins. So what to do with all that unstructured time?

How about this: keep learning.

Just as consultant Alan Weiss asserts, your ability to constantly learn is a competitive advantage, and one that doesn’t depend on any school or classroom.

With that in mind, here are two books you could read over the Christmas break that have the potential to pay dividends throughout your life:

Dan Pink, recently named by Thinkers50 as one of the top 15 business and management thinkers in the world, wrote the first American business book in manga, the Japanese comic book style. An instant bestseller, it offers career advice for young and old alike–and it has a pretty cool trailer (below).

Johnny Bunko trailer from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

Richard St John’s book offers similar advice but from a different angle. After being asked the seemingly simple question “How do you become successful?” by a young teenage girl, he set out to find the answer. Ten years, 500 interviews, and reams of data later, 8 to Be Great tells you what successful people do–and you can do what they do. Here’s a summary of the book that Richard St John gave in a TED talk (below).

Both books are fun, easy to read, and undeniably helpful. You can read Dan Pink’s book in 90 minutes–it’s a comic book, for crying out loud. Richard St John’s can be read in a couple of sittings, so you have no excuse to not read them both.

I’m encouraging my children to read them. In fact, my thirteen-year-old daughter has already read Johnny Bunko and we’ve had some good conversation about its lessons.

I wish these books had been available when I was 20. If you’re in college now, please do yourself a favor and read them. You’ll get a 20 year head start on me.

Bonus assignment if you finish these: Seth Godin’s Linchpin.