I was talking about this yesterday. When I picked up my interest in Philosophy during my mid-teens, I somehow got it into my head that the only books worth reading were the original works, so for years I wasted a lot of time struggling with incomprehensible books (Hegel & Schopenhauer, I’m looking at you), before I realized that reading Other people’s views wouldn’t necessary make my views not mine. (I know. Double negative. Deal with it).
What we somehow fail to realize is that without Popular and Survey works, we’d be extremely ignorant about almost everything. They serve as gateways to strange lands that we travel to if we get hooked. Without popular works, very few people would know anything about Chaos Theory, Evolution, Quantum Mechanics, Cosmology, etc. But we all want to pretend we learned all of these by reading only the original works. Let me take it further: unless you learned everything you know from reading papers, you learned from pop nonfiction. Because Stroud, Knuth, Feynman, and Dawkins are famous mostly because they were essentially (maybe highbrow) popularizers of Science.