I've got alot of books on barbecue. One of my favourites is "Real Barbecue: The Classic Barbecue Guide to the Best Joints Across the USA" by Vince Staten & Greg Johnson. It's an older book (published in 1988), but it's kind of the template for a lot of bbq books that have come out recently.
It covers the subject of bbq in America pretty thouroughly. Part road map with a cross country tour of 'cue joints, part cookbook of recipes, part history book with pics and 'porklore' added. It's a pretty cool book but one of the best things I liked about it was it's rating system.They don't use stars. they don't use a 1-10 rating scale, they don't use grades. Instead the use a 'conversation' scale as though you heard it from someone recommending it to you.
For example, a bbq joint that is:
- fair to middling would be rated "Pretty good"
- one step up doing a respectable job would be rated "Good"
- above that, a special place worth the drive & wait is "Real Good"
- the pinnacle of greatness is "As Good As I've Ever Had"
So, as I post my bbq reviews of joints I've tried, I'll stay true to this 'word of mouth' type rating systen as my bottom line review.