I know this is a belated post but I just saw this topic today. Honestly, there isn't a book that can teach you as well as watching someone do it. I am just like you in this respect, I don't learn from performing a recipe. I need to know why I'm performing it a certain way.
I agree with the poster listing Cook's Illustrated. There are a lot of information and science why they perform a particular technique and add a certain ingredient to their dish of topic. Maybe you can read their mags and watch their show on PBS Saturdays. Their website, TV shows, and mags are pretty good. I also think the Fine Cooking magazine is a great read, with pictures of techniques, when it comes to making you a better cook. By the time I finish one of the issues, I'll know how to make a great dish and why it is so great. My spanish omelette from Fine Cooking is the reason why I make it better than the top hotel in Madrid (according to my gourmet husband). Check out their website but I think the magazines are a great collection to have.
Magazines aside, I learned some techniques using various books but I can't pinpoint a single book that has really helped me. From the books I've thumbed through, Le Cordon Bleu and Anne Willan seem to be good teachers.
For learning through television, I hate to admit that I learned a lot from watching Emeril. Yes, he can be a pain with all of his "bams" and the humming he does to his food but he is a great instructor and tells you the whats and whys while he is cooking. I feel like I'm in class when I watch him. Tyler Florence is another good instructor on the FN. If you have a chance, Jacques Pepin is awesome for French cuisine techniques. Between him and Le Cordon Bleu, you can be a force to be reckoned with.