Pasta comes in so many different shapes. New ones are being invented all the time, so any list of pasta shapes that I post here would probably not be up to date. The smallest shapes are often used in soups, while long strands are tyipcally used with sauces. Tubes and bowties tend to be used in salads. Shells and large tubes are stuffed and baked. With so many different shapes and textures to choose from, it's an easy bet that each person has a favorite.
Some pasta shapes are limited to a particular region or town in Italy, or produced by an individual pasta maker, so these may not be available in the US.
My two favorite pasta shapes are campanelle ("little bells") and orecchiette. I really like the ruffled edges of the campanelle, and find it a very good vessel for sauce. Orecchiette is more of a texture thing for me - I love feeling the little suction cup on my tongue. I also generally prefer linguine and tagliatelle over spaghetti and angel hair - I just like the wide, flat texture. I've never had bucatini, but am interested in trying it - it's hollow spaghetti tubes, which sounds fun!
How about you? What are your favorite pasta shapes and why?
Here are two different lists of pasta shapes:
Pasta shapes, from Food-Info
List of Pasta, from Wikipedia
22 Fast, Fresh Pasta Dishes for Weeknight Suppers
On Making Your Own Pasta
Look! Name That Pasta
(Image: Kathryn Hill)