The first book I remember buying from my own money was Finally by Wendy Mass (I recently sent a review of it to Stone Soup, inspired by the Newsletter). I felt grown up carrying the shiny paperback home by myself, and even more importantly, I'd never identified with a character so much. From that moment, Finally and I were best friends, and although the copy became worn and smudged with time, the story never grew old in my eyes.
At this moment in time, a few weeks after I began seventh grade, the book that means the most to me is Emma by Jane Austen. I carried it with me in my backpack on the first day of middle school, over a year ago. My new school was giant compared to my elementary school, and I was surrounded by strangers. For the first few weeks, I felt lost and alone. But every time I opened Emma at lunch or between classes, the familiar characters and old-style language seemed to wrap their arms around me and transport me to a place which I knew like the back of my hand. I think of those days with nothing more than vague but fond memory now; but Emma continues to be my all-time favorite book.
My book collection consists of books which really mean something to me. It can be something that inspires memories in me, has characters I identify with like I do with no others, or simply strikes me as a book which is second to none. When I check out something from the library which I'm unable to part with after weeks and even months, then I know it belongs in my collection and I usually buy a copy off Amazon or from the bookstore. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the books are also by Jane Austen - upon reflection, the humor and archaic language appealed (and still does appeal) to me more than any other style.
I like to keep my locker at school filled with books, so a large percentage of my collection is crammed against the walls of the locker. The rest I keep at home, because all readers know that one can't have a room without a book collection of some sort inside it.