The Geometry of Pasta even got on the New York Times' radar in December. Besides being a truly beautiful and fun book to look at with its black and white renditions of the varieties of pasta you can and sometimes can't find at your local grocery store, it's filled with historical explanations like where the pasta got its name and when or how it was invented.
One thing I did learn was that some pastas just taste better fresh. That explains why I've never had really good success with gnocchi. It also explains why you can't find orrecchiette in a box on the shelves.
Previously, I've been pretty stuck on Barilla pasta. The spaghetti rigatti is a favorite of ours. However, Barilla doesn't offer (or at least Publix doesn't carry) a lot of the shapes that make sauces successful. So, I'm learning to branch out--mainly to Ronzoni pasta for varieties like orzo.
My plan is to make a pasta from the book every-other-week or so and share how it turned out. Meanwhile, if you have interest in having a book with more than a list of recipes, but also an explanation for the whys and wherefores, than I highly recommend trotting down to your library and picking it up. Meanwhile, I'll be storing this gem in my own kitchen library.