As a writer, I don't like long titles, and rarely do I go over two words with a title (most of the longer ones on my novels were thought up by a well-meaning editor.) I am moderately to seriously picky about the wording, and prefer to title my books myself, but I will compromise with the editor when absolutely necessary.
As a reader, the longer another author's book title is, the less likely I am to buy the book. Sometimes simply the title wording will nix my interest. Like one of the worst I've seen this year: Memories of My Melancholy Whores (I don't think Gabe will mind me picking on him; he's in the top 100 books of the year.) I guess this title is supposed to be luminous, like the author, but you know what my first impression was when I read that title? It's The Unhappy Hookers*. Sure, I'm going to want to read about them. Right after I stick a needle in my eye.
When I put together a title, I think about the reader, not me. I already know what the book's about; what I want to do is communicate a little of that in one or two words to the person who looks at the cover. Titles, like colors, can cause a reaction in some folks. I know jarring titles make me edgy, and depressing-sounding titles chase me away from the shelf, while complicated titles make me suspicious.
Then there are the titles that for whatever reason simply irritate the hell out of me. Like the ones that include punctuation (Title!) or try to be cute with symbols (Title & title). Exclamation! Points! Are! Just! Annoying! and you know, if I want symbolism, I'll go read Baudelaire.
Both the writer and reader in me expect good to great titles on books. I know more than a few writers have to put up with lousy titles slapped on their novels by someone else, but I think a good title is worth fighting -- or holding out -- for.
What bugs you about novel titles?
*For you youngsters, back in the early seventies there was a rather infamous autobio written by former call girl and Penthouse columnist Xaviera Hollander titled The Happy Hooker.